EM – A country that takes climate change seriously

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Britain is gaining credibility ahead of the UN COP 26 summit with a climate protection plan that is the result of years of debate and social engagement, writes Rod Oram

Just in time, the British government has a wide range of climate strategies and – Guidelines presented that will increase your credibility as President of the UN climate negotiations, which begin next weekend in Glasgow.

It was a tight deal, even for a government that is fond of ad hoc decisions and bold statements about actual actions were known. Part of the delay was caused by internal warfare between the Treasury Department and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which was revealed in their increasingly combative exchange of briefings and leaks over the past few weeks.

In the face of the drama, there was relief palpable after the long-delayed series of net-zero policies, reports and papers were finally released this week. “We didn’t have a plan before, now we have one,” said Chris Stark, chairman of the Climate Change Committee. “This is a major step forward, which shows the government’s ambition to reduce emissions across the economy over the next 15 years and beyond. It provides a lot more clarity about what companies and individuals are facing and what key actions will be required in the coming decades to create a Net Zero nation. ”

As the government advisory body that modeled the creation of our Climate Change Commission two years ago, the committee presented a damning report on the UK government earlier this year. It said the existing guidelines would guarantee the UK would not meet its carbon reduction budgets.

The committee remains vigilant. “The critical next step is to turn words into action. We have started to assess the strategy more closely and to examine the extent to which the measures proposed in this strategy meet its ambitions, “said Stark.

The UK’s climate commitment is broadly in line with the UN goal to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C. It aims to reduce emissions by at least 68 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 78 percent by 2035 and net zero by 2050. But it will take all the initiatives announced this week and many more to achieve them.

On the whole, the response from business leaders was enthusiastic, albeit with reservations such as the lack of detail on all projects , a lack of programs to help farmers reduce agricultural emissions or a timeline to stop oil and gas exploration or manage the transition away from high-carbon industries.

Some business leaders were also concerned that a research paper, which dealt with issues such as high carbon diets and frequent flying, how to “initiate” changes in consumer behavior, was suddenly withdrawn two hours after its publication with the rest of the strategy. It was created by the government’s “Behavior Insights Unit” and offered nine principles for promoting consumer change.

Instead, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told voters that they could continue their previous lifestyle with a clear conscience.

“In the year In 2050 we will still drive cars, fly planes and heat our houses, but our cars will be electric, glide silently through our cities, our planes will be emission-free so we can fly without guilt, and our houses will be heated with it cheap, reliable electricity from the winds of the North Sea. ”

Despite this assurance, the response from wider society has been generally positive but more mixed, ranging from skepticism from unions and others concerned about the inadequate support of workers and citizens in the transition from a clean economy to anger over the radical end of the climate ng.

The in-depth knowledge and the different opinions reflected a broad social commitment to the climate crisis. The groundwork was laid in 2008 when almost all of the MPs in the House of Commons voted to set up the Committee on Climate Change. Support from all parties for the legislation remains, which has been critical to its success. The committee has presented the country with a series of declining carbon budgets for five years, identified ways for policies to achieve them, and has the power to assess the effectiveness of government policies.

The UK’s gross greenhouse gas emissions declined by almost 50 percent from 1990 to 2019, led by the rapid decarbonization of power generation. Last year, fossil fuels only made up 37 percent of electricity generation. In this week’s announcements, the government set itself a new goal: a net-zero electricity system by 2035 – “subject to security of supply”.

In contrast, New Zealand’s gross emissions are for the same period in all sectors with the exception of waste electricity up 26 percent; and our electricity generation from fossil fuels has increased slightly, albeit from a low level.

When announcing the net-zero initiatives, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our strategy is an example for other countries to be greener again while we kick off global net zero. ”

The government said its extensive program of plans and spending commitments will unlock £ 90 billion ($ 175 billion) in private sector investment by 2030, and around 440,000 Secure jobs while ensuring the UK meets its emissions targets in the 2030s and beyond.

The promises include new support for nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen projects, two carbon-free industrial centers, increased funding for infrastructure from electric vehicles, heat pump installations, sustainable aviation fuel fe (with the aim of meeting 10 percent of UK air transport needs by 2030) and natural carbon sinks, among many other measures.

The heating and construction sub-strategy will upgrade the existing housing and commercial stock. It will be $ 3.9 billion. No New Gas Boiler Sales After 2035 is the “Government’s Ambition.” The Net Zero Strategy report argues that energy efficiency measures and falling clean technology costs should ensure that households’ energy bills are kept will be lower by 2024 than if no action were taken, especially given the current surge in global gas prices.

The strategy would unlock several economic and environmental benefits while having negligible cost implications for consumers and businesses, the government said .

“There is a global race to develop new green technologies to fuel new industries and attract private investment,” said Johnson. “Countries that take advantage of this global green industrial revolution will enjoy unrivaled growth and prosperity for decades to come.” -Economy, but only a rough estimate was made.

It states that “a macroeconomic carbon price could generate additional income of around 0.5 percent of GDP initially,” leading to a temporary increase in Total revenue leads by about 1.3 percent. However, this would lag behind the loss of fossil fuel tax revenues. The net fiscal pressure would be around 1.5 percent by 2050, even if carbon pricing were introduced.

The Dept. of Business estimates a positive net effect of $ 0.5 billion. Elsewhere, the Treasury Department states that “improved air quality has an economic benefit of $ 35 billion.

The Treasury Department noted the importance of it the government incorporates climate considerations into budget and financial planning. For example, promoting renewable energies can provide GDP multipliers for investments that are up to 2.5 times higher than current investments in fossil fuels.

The government has also published policy proposals to “green finance”, one Area where the UK is already a leader.

This roadmap introduces a number of new sustainability information disclosure requirements to help make the UK economy greener. These go beyond the existing requirements of the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

The Treasury Department said the government “expects the publication of transition plans to become the norm”. For example, it will introduce a legal requirement that “certain companies” in the financial and corporate sectors publish detailed and credible transition plans that align with the UK’s net zero 2050 commitment. Organizations that do not adhere to them would have to explain why goals that cover the entire economy do not apply to them.

Companies listed, for example, on the FTSE 100 stock market index are currently on the way to jointly 3 C of the global temperature rise, more than double the 1.5 C limit recommended by the Paris Agreement, according to an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund from earlier this year.

Only 19 percent of companies have climate plans in place to do so should help to keep the rise in global temperature below 1.5 ° C. More than a quarter of them have not yet committed to any form of climate target.

Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for the Labor Party, attacked the recent climate proposals by the Johnson administration in the House of Commons.

“This plan falls short . And while there is modest short-term investment, there is nothing like the dedication that we believe is needed. ”For example, the money on offer would nowhere near meet the needs of the 19 million homes in the UK that only meet class energy efficiency standards C, retrofit.

“As far as heat pumps are concerned, the government’s own target says that by 2028 we will need 600,000 households a year to install heat pumps. But they only finance 30,000 a year and only help one in 250 households on the gas network. ”

The help to industry has also been profoundly inadequate. “Take steel, it’s going to cost £ 6 billion before the steel industry hits zero net. If we want a steel industry, we have to share the costs with the private sector. A £ 250 million clean steel fund is simply not going to secure the future of our industry. ”

Likewise in many other industries. For example: “Germany is offering £ 9 billion for a new hydrogen strategy … UK £ 240 million.

” We are seeing the same pattern everywhere, including land use, industry and transport, and because of this lack of investment, there is a large gap between promises and delivery. “

He concluded,” This plan will not deliver the just, successful transition we need, commensurate with the severity of the hardship we are facing. “

The Labor Party Annual Conference Last month called for a significant increase in the party’s climate ambitions to reach net zero by 2030, in line with the British Greens’ long-term goal.

Labor’s Green New Deal would, among other things, repeal all anti-union laws, ban fracking, Make all public transport publicly owned and use it free of charge, invest in rail electrification, high-speed Expand trains and rail freight, remove heavy goods vehicles from the roads, carbon-free retrofitting of social and public housing and public buildings, rich tax increases, working with farmers to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and welcoming climate refugees to the UK.

In essence, this week in the UK has shown what climate debate and action are like in a country that is deeply committed to it.

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