Calling for global action on climate change

I really don’t like the disruptive tactics of Extinction Rebellion.  But they have a point about the urgent need for climate action.

This was underlined by a report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year, which warned that there is little over a decade for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C.

The experts said that even half a degree temperature rise above this will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

Constituents have told me how struck they were by a recent BBC documentary on climate change, presented by Sir David Attenborough, which sounded the same alarm bell.

However, the protestors rarely acknowledge the huge progress which the UK has made.  We were the first country in the world to pass a climate change Act.  

Between 2010 and 2018, total greenhouse gases fell by 25 per cent - faster than any other G20 country.

Last month, renewables contributed to over 40 per cent of our electricity supply.  In fact, just this last weekend we had our longest ever period of no coal contributing to electricity generation in the UK.

The Government is already legally committed to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

Extinction Rebellion’s goal of net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2025 is unrealistic.  It would require all diesel and petrol vehicles and every gas boiler to be scrapped in just six years.

The protestors should recognise that the real problem is global.  While we were the first country to commit to phasing out coal power by 2025, China and India are building new coal plants.  Renewables currently supply just 10 per cent of global energy consumption.

Still, to secure more rapid global action the UK and others must lead, and we can be more ambitious as technology delivers new solutions.  Since 2010 UK businesses have invested £92 billion in renewable energy.  400,000 people are now working in low carbon businesses.

Next week the Committee on Climate Change is expected to advise that it could now be possible for the UK to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions reduction target sooner than planned for no more cost.

As Sir David Attenborough said, “there is still time if we act now with determination and urgency.”

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