Climate change in the UK, as in a lot of western countries, is a more and more important concern for the public opinion, especially because of the action of the Medias and the succession of warmer than average years. They now consider climate change as one of the most significant threat to world well-being, and 81% of them are concerned about this issue. Therefore, it obligedpoliticians to react and to put forward some solutions to tackle the problem.
UK global leadership aspirations on climate change:
The Uk concern about climate change became evident in 2003, with the Energy White paper detailing the new energy policy to ensure that energy, the environment and economic growth would be properly and sustainably integrated with goals like 10% of electricity generationby 2010 and 20% by 2020.
It was reinforced by the publishing of the 2007 Energy white paper: Meeting the Energy Challenge which outlines the Government’s international and domestic strategy for responding to the carbon emission and the replacement of the declining production from North sea oil and gas.
The Climate change act 2008 was a big step: The UK has passed legislation which introducesthe world’s first long-term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change. A legally binding target of at least an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to be achieved through action in the UK and abroad, with also a reduction in emissions of at least 34 percent by 2020. There were others measures such as:
- A carbon budgeting system which caps emissionsover five-year periods.
- The creation of the Committee on Climate Change - a new independent, expert body to advise the Government on the level of carbon budgets and on where cost-effective savings can be made.
- The inclusion of International aviation and shipping emissions in the Act, which was controversial. Etc.
The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in 2009, details theactions to be taken to cut carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and then confirmed the desire of UK government to reach its commitments.
Politician’s discourses and acts are also more and more involved in this fight. For example, Gordon Brown passionately referred to climate change as ‘the world’s market largest failure’ and ‘not just an environmental and economic imperative, but a moral one’. He alsocommissioned and endorsed the stern review which considered the cost of mitigation to 1% of global GDP while the pursue business as usual would cost 5-20% and tried to sell this message to George W. Bush.
Regarding to these acts, papers and declarations, the UK policy of climate change is then one of the most ambitious and innovative in the world, which clearly shows its leadershipaspirations on climate change.
Aspirations which are partly matched by its domestic policies
The uk is still expected to meet its 1997 Kyoto Protocol target of a 12,5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 lvl by 2012. Indeed, the UK –alongside Sweden- is likely to be one of the few EU members to fulfill their commitments.” While the failure of a lot a EU members could undermine theirattempts to show international leadership on climate change issues.
Budgets are greener than before. For example, in 2006 it included an increase of fuel duty (but just 1.25 pence), the doubling of the air passenger duty and climate change levy on business which was increased in line with inflation. Of course all that is limited by the need to be gentle with the electorate who doesn’t want to pay toomuch.
There is an effort made for the renewable energies. For example, the amount of renewable generation added in the year 2004 was 250 megawatts while it was 500 megawatts in 2005. The government also tries to develop energies such as ethanol and biofuel.
Even if it is still not perfect:
Firstly, we can say that in 2004, the UK was the world's 8th greatest producer of man-made carbon...
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