The melting of glaciers is leading to rising sea levels, which will have a devastating impact on many coastal areas. Agriculture’s vulnerability to climate change threatens global food security and may cause large-scale migration.
Credible plan to achieve net zero by 2050?
The Good Law Project has brought about a legal case and a High Court on 18 July ruled that Boris Johnson’s strategy for getting to net zero is inadequate and unlawful, because the proposals are too vague and there is no realistic implementation plan.
This is Boris Johnson’s way of working. As the Conservative MP Jesse Norman has put it, he has no long-term plan:
“Rather you are simply seeking to campaign, to keep changing the subject and to create political and cultural dividing lines mainly for your advantage”.
The energy prices crisis, precipitated by the war in Ukraine, should have prompted us to accelerate the move into cheaper and more reliable renewable energy sources.
Conversely, the Tories have remained hostile to onshore wind farms, one of the cheapest sources of energy, and are reluctant to offer more incentives to make our homes energy efficient.
Energy Performance Certificates rank homes in 7 bands. According to the Resolution Foundation those living in the least energy efficient homes (F to G-rated) pay £ 390 more per year for the energy bills, in comparison with those living in a C-rated home (and this difference will further increase as energy prices go up in October).
EU strategies and Brexit
Energy-efficiency is important also in relation to household appliances. The EU energy efficiency labels (that we still use despite Brexit) allow us to choose products which are more energy efficient.
The EU also introduced a maximum power level for vacuum-cleaners, which has made them more energy efficient without affecting performance. Although these regulations are beneficial, well-received and set at supranational level by necessity, Jacob Rees-Mogg fantasizes about scrapping EU vacuum cleaner laws as an alleged Brexit benefit.
Decarbonising transport is not just about electric cars. Air flights are the form of transport with the greatest impact on climate change (per km travelled), but our government’s “jet zero” policy does not offer realistic solutions.
What the UK does to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is important but even more important is what we do to influence other nations , as the UK only accounts for 1% of carbon dioxide emissions. Brexit, in this respect, has been a retrograde step.
Previously, we could use the EU massive markets as a lever to push trading partners to engage in climate change policies. The EU is further strengthening the requirement for climate protection in trade deals.
Conversely Brexit Britain has signed a trade deal with Australia, a country with one of the world’s worst records on climate change, in which we agreed to drop explicit references to the Paris climate change agreement. This deal means that we will import agricultural products produced with banned pesticides, sometimes grown in land obtained with deforestation, and with increased greenhouse emissions due to transport.
Ignoring the climate change crisis
Climate change is bad for the worldwide economy and tackling climate change is likely to be a good investment. At an individual level making our homes energy efficient not only reduces the energy bills, it also increases significantly the resale price of a house.
Worryingly, the Tory leadership election has also largely ignored the climate change crisis. According to the Green Party, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are competing to propose stupidest climate policies. The next general election might be critical.