UK Government Supports Climate Change Initiatives

Next month, (June), will be observed as UN Environment Month and the UK authorities, through their Barbados based embassy, have been sharing details of the plan, outlining how it intends to tackle  climate change and what this means for the Caribbean.

The world’s climate is changing, says the UK Government and the science suggests that changes are linked to carbon emissions.  Scientists are now saying that if emissions continue to rise, the world could see a global 4° C rise in temperature within our lifetime.

It may not sound like much, says a UK statement, but a 4° C rise in temperature across the planet would have devastating consequences.  They are predicting that in Europe they could suffer the effects of increased water scarcity, more frequent and intense droughts and forest fires.

Here in the Caribbean effects could include the loss of coral reefs and marine ecosystems, increased severity of hurricanes and devastating sea level rise.  To ensure our future security we need to minimize the risks by making sure we keep to below 2° C, and that is the ultimate aim of international discussions on climate change through the UN Framework Convention in order to reach a legally binding global agreement, said the statement.

It is now just over a year since the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that his would be the ‘greenest Government ever’.  Through action at home and internationally, the UK intends to be at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change and encourage low carbon growth.  The Coalition Government recognizes both ethical and economic imperatives to addressing climate change.  If we are to avoid leaving a legacy of debt and damage to future generations, we must act now, argues the UK.

In recent weeks, the UK Government has made two major announcements on climate change policy.  First, our Department for Environment and Climate Change announced ambitious, legally binding targets to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.  Second, the Government published plans for a Green Investment Bank, the world’s first national green development bank.

In the fourth carbon budget, the UK Coalition Government accepted the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to cut carbon emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025.

No other country in the world, state UK representatives, has set legally-binding carbon targets in this much detail, this far ahead.  By being so clear and so committed, the United Kingdom can help to stimulate the investment the low carbon sector badly needs.  Investors and potential investors in low carbon economic activity – like renewable electricity, electric cars or home insulation – will have the certainty they need to make long-term investments.

Through leading by example, the UK can make stronger demands of the international community.  They, for example, will continue to argue for an EU target of a 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.  These actions support Caribbean and Association of Small Island State (AOSIS) calls for developed world countries to make ambitious cuts to their carbon emissions with the aim of limiting the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees.

The UK Government has committed to bringing forward legislation to create an operationally independent, enduring Green Investment Bank.  It has also guaranteed £3 billion initial capitalization for the bank, which will start to make investments from April 2012.  This initial capitalization should enable the bank to catalyze an additional £15 billion of investment in green infrastructure by 2014/5.

By providing the finance for low carbon infrastructure, the bank will help to lay the foundations for the UK’s long term growth.  Possible early priorities for the Bank are offshore wind, waste and non-domestic energy efficiency.  They hope that in future years the bank will grow to become both a borrowing and an investing institution.

These announcements build on the UK’s progress over the last year.  Since coming to power, the Government has committed to funding four commercial-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects; it is reforming the electricity market to encourage greater investment into low-carbon electricity plants; it has launched the world’s first incentive scheme for renewable heat, and has published details of the Green Deal – a scheme enabling householders, businesses and landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and buildings at no up-front cost.

By taking action to reduce our emissions and green our economy at home, the Government is securing the UK’s long term future for the sake of the generations to follow.  They promised that they will remain at the forefront of the international debate, helping to build momentum toward a legally binding global climate change deal.

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