Why the government’s 2050 net zero carbon target is not fit for purpose. 2050 puts the state’s responsibility for action way too far back — and it’s based on the most conservative estimates too. We need to address this as what it is: a crisis, argues IAN SINCLAIR. Parliament declaring a climate emergency and the government implementing a 2050 net zero target are huge wins for Britain’s environmental movement. However, speaking to the Morning Star in June 2019, Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read called the CCC report which recommended the 2050 net zero target, “essentially dead on arrival.” And in September 2019 Ed Miliband said “2050 isn’t the radical position and now it’s seen as a conservative ‘small c’ position.” So what are the problems with the 2050 net zero target? First, the CCC’s 2050 target is derived from the October 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C — the maximum increase in temperature the 189 signatories of the 2016 UN Paris climate agreement pledged to limit global warming to. However, as many climate experts have noted, the IPCC tends to be conservative in its predictions. “This is simply due to its structure,” Dr Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam University noted in 2014. “The IPCC report will contain only things that a whole group of scientists have agreed upon on a kind of consensus process. This kind of agreement tends to be the lowest common denominator.” He noted that sea level rise in the last two decades “has overtaken the speed of the upper range of previous projections of sea level of the IPCC.” Writing in Business Green in May 2019, Will Dawson from Forum For The Future explained the ramifications of this: “The CCC is therefore using scenarios that are likely far too optimistic. Emissions have to be cut much faster than they assumed to keep to 1.5°C.” Second, the CCC admits the 2050 target, “if replicated across the world,” would deliver only a greater than 50 per cent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C — reckless odds when you are talking about the fate of hundreds of millions of people. Indeed, Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, recently stated: “The problem is the framing the CCC has for net zero is already far removed from what is needed to meet our Paris commitments.” A positive step would be the adoption of an earlier net zero target date. Both Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London and Tim Jackson, professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey, back a net zero target of 2030. Under Corbyn’s leadership a Green New Deal with a target date of 2030 was approved at the 2019 annual Labour Party conference (though didn’t fully make it into the party’s December 2019 general election manifesto). Impressively, in July Ed Miliband, now the shadow business and energy secretary, confirmed he backs the 2030 target date.
Morning Star 26th Sept 2020 read more »
A huge breakthrough in climate policy was signalled this week when China announced it will reduce its emissions to net zero by 2060. It’s a potentially game-changing leap, following in the footsteps of the UK’s existing 2050 net zero target. But promises are easy, actions are more challenging – and the UK has been steadily slipping from its climate targets. It’s consistently promised tougher policies for the future, but for a few years, Britain’s long-term climate strategy has lain buried in fog. We know the net zero carbon destination point, but we can’t yet see how the government intends to get there. The National Infrastructure Strategy will lay out plans for government to spend £100bn on big projects. Past spending might have been dominated by new roads, but the government has gone quiet over its £27bn roads programme. Heat is a Cinderella problem – more than a third of UK carbon emissions are created by heat production. Ministers are being pressed to announce a date when gas home boilers will be phased out. Industries want incentives for low-carbon heat, and Mr Johnson’s UN remarks suggest he has been persuaded by the well-funded lobby trumpeting the role of hydrogen in heating and some transport, although that looks expensive. The nuclear giant EDF is suggesting that nukes might be harnessed to generate heat, but there’s scepticism about this. Mr Johnson told UNGA the UK could become the “Saudi Arabia of wind”. Offshore wind no longer needs subsidy but progress is being delayed by a host of other factors, including their impact on birds, or fishing. It does need help. To the dismay of some green campaigners, Mr Johnson also committed himself to nuclear power – although it’s not clear if that means the behemoth Sizewell C, or multiples of mini-nukes called SMRs. Perhaps we’ll have both. But neither will happen unless the PM agrees government-backed funding. The PM also declared himself for “evangelist” to the carbon capture technology that catches CO2 emissions from industry, albeit at a heavy cost. He said he’d previously been sceptical. How will this be funded?
BBC 26th Sept 2020 read more »