Published on June 29th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
UK’s Low-Carbon Transition At Risk Due To Lack Of Government Action
June 29th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
A lack of government action on climate change is putting the United Kingdom’s transition to a resilient, low-carbon economy in danger of being derailed, according to a new warning voiced this week by the country’s Committee on Climate Change.
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) was set established back in 2008 under the Climate Change Act as a means to advise the UK Government and Developed Administrations on emissions targets, and to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change. The UK has made good progress, at least as the figures show. Greenhouse gas emissions are around 42% lower than they were in 1990, and around half of the way to the 2050 commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels. Similarly, even though emissions have fallen, GDP has continued to increase by more than 65% over the same period, while total household energy bills have fallen compared to 2008, when the Climate Change Act was passed. Earlier this year the CCC published a report which showed that UK emissions are down, as are household energy bills — dispelling some of the myth that work to combat climate change need not impact the consumer where it hurts them the most, on their household energy bills.
The UK has also taken steps to address the risk of climate change, such as improving river and coastal flood defenses, and improving the resilience of energy, transport, and water infrastructure to severe weather.
However, this week, the CCC has voiced concerns that a lack of Government action on climate change is threatening the country’s transition to a resilient and low-carbon economy.
“The impact of climate change on our lives and those of our children is clearer than ever,” said CCC Chairman, Lord Deben. “The UK has shown global leadership on climate change, but progress will stall at home without urgent further action. New plans, for a new Parliament, are needed as a matter of urgency to meet our legal commitments, grasp the opportunities offered by the global low-carbon transition, and protect people, businesses and the environment from the impacts of a changing climate.”
Since 2012, greenhouse gas emission reductions have primarily happened only in the power sector, whilst emissions from the country’s transport and building stock are increasing. The CCC contends that “The overall state of our natural environment is worsening, reducing its resilience to climate change.” Further, recent storms across the country have revealed that the UK’s national infrastructure is still vulnerable to severe weather, and now that we are ten years on from the 2007 floods, the risks of surface water flooding in the UK’s towns and cities still have not been addressed.
All of these warnings and issues are laid out in the CCC’s statutory 2017 Report to Parliament, and sets out the following recommendations:
- Urgently delivers a plan to continue reducing emissions across the economy. It is no longer justified or wise to delay the publication of the emissions reduction plan required by law. The plan must address the gap between Parliament’s agreed targets and the impact of existing policies, including: plans to bring forward additional low-carbon electricity generation through the 2020s; accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles; provide a path for the uptake of low-carbon heat and set out a strategy for deploying carbon capture and storage technology.
- Strengthens the UK’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP) in the first half of 2018. The new program, which drives action to prepare for climate change impacts, must address priority areas: flood risks to homes and businesses, risks to the natural environment, including to soils and biodiversity, and risks to human health and wellbeing from higher temperatures. The next NAP must be more ambitious, with policies that make a measurable difference and with clearer mechanisms to track progress.