I’m not an enthusiast for pupils taking ‘strike action’
at school, after all, it might become habit- forming.
Equally, it will have been miserable if you were one of the thousands of drivers that got stuck in traffic jams caused by Extinction Rebellion.
Nevertheless, the climate change debate has taken centre stage for a few days – despite BREXIT.
The UK was first country to introduce legally binding
long-term emissions targets under our landmark Climate Change Act in 2008. The
act requires us to achieve a 57% reduction in emissions by 2032 from the levels
in 1990. So far, we’ve cut 42% at the same time as the economy grew by over
70%: So, we’ve decarbonised our economy at a faster rate than any other rich
country. The last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1890.
If we are to meet our latest target of at least 80%
reduction in emissions by 2050 however, then we are going to have to raise our game still further. In response the
Government has set out a comprehensive plan for the whole economy in the Clean Growth Strategy published in
The publication of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has raised the question as to whether any of this is nearly enough, and consequently the Government is now awaiting advice this week from the Committee on Climate Change on how to move to a ‘Net-Zero’ emissions target.
Last week Opposition MPs were demanding a guarantee to implement these recommendations -whatever they may be. I think it’s more sensible to wait just a few more days and see what the recommendations actually are, then think how we can implement them effectively.
I was told that the total of all our emissions going back to 1900 are equivalent to just one year’s emissions from modern China -I haven’t ‘fact-checked’ this, and it may be complete nonsense, but it makes the point that this is a planetary issue requiring an international response. It will be no good for the climate, or for Britain, if we cut our own emissions whilst they are more than made up for by increases from elsewhere.
We need to use the UK’s leadership to drive forward the climate agenda at the united Nations.
We’ve played an important role in establishing the Paris Agreement of 2015, and in the subsequent detailed work to implement it.
In this respect our International Development budget has been a vital component in establishing our leadership: we are the world’s second largest donor, and we are providing developing countries with £6 billion in the current spending round as ‘climate finance’ to help them cut their own emissions and to invest in resilience against the impact of climate changes that are already adversely affecting them.
All of this effort, of course, was well underway before pupils abandoned their classrooms to protest, or their parents and teachers glued themselves to Waterloo Bridge, but if it helps…