Tag Archives: emissions

UK Climate Change Committee: “If you want my advice…”

Today, the UK government have been given some pretty important advice from the UK’s powerful Climate Change Committee which, if they take it, could add some much-needed momentum to the climate talks in Cancun this week.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) are calling on the UK to cut its carbon emissions by 60% by the year 2030 on 1990 levels, which would be a world-leading commitment.

“We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than 1% of GDP. We therefore urge the government to legislate the budget, and to develop the policies required to cut emissions,” said Lord Turner, chairman of the CCC. “The case for action on climate change is as strong as ever: climate science remains robust and suggests that there are very significant risks if we do not cut emissions. And countries acting now will gain economic benefits in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.”

To achieve this new target, the UK would have to totally revamp its electricity markets to encourage the building of a recommended 25 clean power stations during the 2020s. It would also mean an overhaul of heat-leaking homes, and a move away from petrol driven cars to electric.

If badgers could drive...New Nissan 'Leaf': Britain's first 100% electric, zero emissions car will be the future.

This bold (though necessary) new direction would actually benefit the UK with a major drive on energy efficiency and green industry.

However, at the moment this is just advice, and the UK government is under no obligation to heed or even legalise it. The government is still yet to confirm its long-promised target of 30% cuts by 2020. Though the Conservatives, when in opposition, did pledge that they would take the Committee’s advice, and become the “greenest ever government”. What better way to prove it than to accept these recommendations and set other developed countries a good example?

Though this is potentially good news, Laura Webster, Head of Policy at Tearfund, adds, “In setting ourselves long-term goals we must not switch attention away from the urgency of reducing emissions immediately. Every year of delay leads to serious consequences for poor communities being hit hardest by climate impacts. And every year of delay means that the hope of keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees becomes more elusive.”

As yet the Cancun climate talks haven’t seen any great leadership from developed countries on moving to a zero carbon economy, or climate leadership of any kind, but this advice from CCC could be the push the UK government needs to make the kind of ambitious move we want it to, and lead the larger polluters like the US and China to do the same.

See the report from the CCC here, and let us know what you think!

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Weak deal leaves poor countries in limbo

Not fair. Not ambitious. Not binding. After two weeks of UN climate talks, world leaders have failed to reach the FAB deal that developing countries desperately need.

Developing countries are first and worst affected (Photo courtesy of Tearfund)

Tearfund‘s policy experts have analysed the outcomes so far. Here’s their take:

After two weeks of negotiations United Nations climate talks have failed to reach the ambitious legally binding deal that developing countries desperately needed. It is not yet clear whether a weak US-led compromise text will be accepted by some countries, notably the EU and the world’s poorest countries.

‘A small group of developed countries and advanced developing countries, such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa have cobbled together a weak political declaration on climate change that will fail to cut emissions significantly or provide enough money for developing nations to adapt and develop sustainably.

‘Instead they have cobbled together a flimsy declaration to plaster over the cracks, which is not worth the paper it is written on. This is not a comprehensive deal, and it is not a deal for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. Many will wonder if they have been sold down the river,’ said Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy, Paul Cook.

‘The human cost of delay has failed to register with the developed world. They have bought themselves time while millions of people facing starvation, disaster and homelessness continue to pay the price. The longer we postpone agreeing a full legal outcome the more we condemn many people to the devastation of lives and livelihoods.’

The loose agreement contains a vague commitment to both keeping temperature rise below two degrees and targets for emissions cuts for developed countries, and little concrete in the way of finance for poor countries.  The non-binding declaration promises short-term finance for developing countries of $30billion up to 2012 and $100billion by 2020, but it is not clear that this money will be new, additional or public.

Tearfund believes that finance for adaptation and mitigation to help poor countries fight climate change and adapt to its consequences needs to be at least $200billion a year by 2020 and developed countries must cut their emissions by 40% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

Tearfund is wary of the fact that some leaders will want to claim that this is a two degree deal, but warns that the low ambition on reducing emissions means that we are heading for a three or four degree world.

‘Poor countries should be outraged; they rightly expected rich nations to play a leadership role in the negotiations. Instead they ignored the science and looked after their own national interests. Following a fortnight of negotiations and a packed year of climate meetings, don’t be fooled – there is still nothing binding and nothing fair in place.’

If you want more informtation, click here.