UK & International Climate Change Policy, Put Simply

UK Climate Change Act 2008

  • Target for 2050: reduce six greenhouse gases by 80% relative to 1990 levels
  • Led to creation of an independent Committee on Climate Change which would advise government on policies needed for the transition to a low-carbon economy
  • Duty of meeting Act’s targets lies with Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (in 2008, this was ex-leader of the UK Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP)

Global climate change policy: Paris Agreement

  • 194 signatories; ratified by 117 parties; signed on the 22nd April 2016
  • Agreement to hold temperatures to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (or less)
  • However, 1.5 °C is the aspirational target (2 °C = merely the worst case scenario)
  • Also agreed less developed countries would be given finance to help with their transition to a low-carbon economy, without diluting their economic development

Three arguments in favour of tackling climate change

  1. Policies cost money but the cost of not acting could be even greater due to the likely impacts of global warming (worth noting impact would be spatially uneven)
  2. “Green” can also be good for business e.g. installing energy saving light bulbs can reduce both carbon emissions and costs, thus also benefitting.
  3. sustainability: citizens have a moral responsibility to improve global living standards without  compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs and wants.

Three possible complications

  1. World poverty: 1.2 billion people worldwide are estimated to live less than $1.25 a day- challenge is tackling global warming whilst improving global living standards
  2. Tackling global warming requires transboundary cooperation: victory for Trump and Brexit vote arguably illustrates the rise of economic nationalism- realistically, do nation-states have the appetite to work together to tackle climate change?
  3. Vague nature of agreements: nation-states still pursuing GDP growth agendas

Further reading



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