I intended to respond to the Zero carbon economy: Call for Evidence from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) but after a few weeks of being bedridden (nothing life-threatening), I missed the 7th December deadline. Having worked on preparation that I did not want to waste I have written this note.
The Climate Change Act (2008) measures greenhouse gas emissions incorrectly.
This shows UK emissions falling sharply but ignores aviation, shipping and imports.
UK emissions, measured properly, are falling far too slowly.
Per person UK greenhouse gas emissions are nearly twice the global average.
To keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, there is a limit to global emissions – the remaining carbon budget.
At the current rate, global emissions will exhaust this budget in 12.7 years.
Unless emissions from production can be reduced quickly, consumption must be reduced.
That means #degrowth.
Most greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the affluent.
To save the climate, the affluent must consume less.
We need to find pleasant lifestyles that are climate friendly, which can attract world wide support.
A new disciplineis necessary … enhanced town planning.
The UK government’s climate brief has passed from an environmental department, DEFRA, to a business department, the Department of Business, Energy and Information Services BEIS.
BEIS is not serious about climate, promoting economic growth and fracking.
BEIS is the sponsoring department of the CCC.
The CCC must be freed from its sponsoring department, BEIS.
I have reluctantly got used to the terms “existential crisis” and “dystopia”. Also, I remember the embarrassment from Kenneth Tynan saying the F-word on TV in 1965 but describing the state we’re in needs more than polysyllabic words. So …
We’re fucked We’ve fucked the planet We live crap lives.
If there’s hope, it’s that our crap lives could be less crap: happier and less polluting.
The floods in Mozambique are another call to wake us to the destruction of climate change.
The Pollution Tax Association, a small group of York residents, worried about similar floods in 2000, saying in a press release:
The York Branch of the Pollution Tax Association today donated £750 to the Oxfam Mozambique Appeal Fund.
“The human and environmental catastrophe in Mozambique is a result of climate change caused by pollution” said the Chair of the Pollution Tax Association. “We in the west need to give careful thought as to how we can reduce environmental pollution. Local actions, such as using your car when you don’t need to, have global consequences”.
At the time the link between climate change and the floods was considered speculative. Now Channel 4’s report points to a clearer link with climate change:
Climate scientists have been warning the world for decades that manmade climate change would do two things it would mean that hurricanes and cyclones will become more and more intense and that therefore some of the people with the world’s smallest carbon footprints would pay the heaviest price.
The key point in my objection is that the proposed York Central development would be responsible for substantial emissions of greenhouse gasses, which may not been properly assessed.
The UK’s CO2 emissions have now been falling for six consecutive years, the longest run of reductions in records going back to 1850 (the blue area in the chart, below).
There were particularly large falls in 2014 (8.7%) and 2016 (5.9%), with 2018 seeing a more modest 1.5% reduction, according to Carbon Brief’s analysis. This means the UK’s CO2 emissions stood 39% below 1990 levels at an estimated 361MtCO2 in 2018.
This article measured the CO2 emissions from energy use in the UK. Emissions from making imported goods are not counted so when the UK manufacturing shuts down and its goods are replaced by imports, these measures fall.
This good progress will be hard to follow
On the BBC News Channel, Dr Simon Evans of Climate Brief did point out that “something like 97% of the reduction was down to using less coal to generate electricity so other parts of the economy aren’t doing so well”.
Here we analyse the drivers of decreasing CO2 emissions in a group of 18 developed economies that have decarbonized over the period 2005–2015. We show that within this group, the displacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy and decreases in energy use explain decreasing CO2 emissions. However, the decrease in energy use can be explained at least in part by a lower growth in gross domestic product.
According to the IPCC , we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale.
Nor does it include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost.