UK’s Climate Change Fight Could Set an Example to Prevent Global Disasters

UK’s Climate Change Fight Could Set an Example to Prevent Global Disasters

UK’s climate change laws are some of the most advanced ones in the world, but even they are not enough for fighting climate change without joint international collaboration. 

Today, even the most determined skeptics cannot deny the growing danger of climate change. The more the technology advances, the more data we obtain on the changes our planet is going through. In the last century alone, the planet’s surface temperature increased by one degree Celsius, which, given the scale, is a troubling indicator. The ice melting and the sea levels rising, growing by 200% each year, is an even more pressing concern. 

The changes we observe now can no longer be reversed, but perhaps, they can be slowed down. Governments worldwide are ready to search for ways to fight climate change, UK included. Still, with the inevitable red tape, no one has offered a truly systematic approach so far. Is such an approach even possible? 

Solving climate change takes a global effort

To be fair, governments across the globe have been discussing solutions to fight climate change for decades. Most importantly, countries understood that the challenge of such a scale could only be solved in a joint effort. That is how 193 UN-member countries adopted The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. The goals set back in the time are quite ambitious, and there is still time to see how it all turns out in practice. So far, though, there has been little progress on the matter. 

The Agenda for Sustainable Development is not the only effort in a fight against climate change. The Agenda was preceded by a Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce industrial greenhouse emissions. The Protocol was adopted in 1997, but it took another eight years before it came into force. 

Another example of a joint government collaboration that did not go as well as planned is the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The idea got a lot of praise and support from the public, even though its implementation is still somewhat of a joke. According to the Paris Climate Accord, the participating countries were supposed to submit statements on their plans for tackling climate change.

And, while some participants were more ambitious than others, Brazil declared its plans to start reducing greenhouse emissions by 2% in 2040. In practice, such a statement does not presuppose any real action over two decades, making the country look more like an observing partner than an active one.

Another problem with the Paris Climate Accord is that no one is monitoring how the participants follow up on their statements. If that wasn’t enough, the Accord goals and statements were supposed to be resubmitted every five years; but many countries failed to deliver on this part in 2020. 

The COP26: Is the UK ready to take the initiative?

Another initiative on climate change prevention, the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, first took place in Berlin in 1995. This year’s COP26 will be held in Glasgow, the UK. The site chosen for the 26th iteration of the initiative is symbolic; as the UK has always been at the forefront of the climate change fight.

Unlike most other countries, claiming to be concerned about climate change, the UK is actually taking some action. It was one of the first states to introduce the Climate Change Act, striving for zero emissions by 2050. More importantly, there seems to be some progress in this matter as between 1990 and 2018; the UK managed to reduce greenhouse emissions by an impressive 44%, while its economy did not suffer and even showed a 75% increase. 

Sadly, not all is well in the UK as the country’s political climate is changing. Brexit has brought many changes — for example, the UK can no longer take part in the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme; which could potentially endanger its climate change prevention initiatives. Besides, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change is openly stating that despite all progress; the country is lagging behind on its zero-emission goals.

One of the reasons for falling behind the schedule is the government’s inconsistent policy on the matter. While introducing green laws, the UK approves coal mine construction and gas exploration sites in the sea. At the same time, it also slashes down grants for electric car buyers; which goes against all logic in implementing eco-initiatives. So, unless the government starts acting and falls in line with its goals; the zero-emission initiative will remain an unattainable dream.

Climate change actions — one step forward, two steps back

Even though the leading countries are trying to introduce green initiatives, their actual implementation falls behind. As government leaders come and go, the climate change laws often get swept under the carpet. The UK is not the only country that is inconsistent with its laws and climate change actions. Besides, it often looks like most government representatives, for the time they have in the office; are trying to lobby ‘more pressing’ matters — at least, in their opinion. In some cases, the matters are indeed pressing, but in some others, they target quick economic growth; and profit pursuit instead of eco-laws and the preservation of our species.

On the bright side, most private businesses are actively pursuing sustainability goals; especially as the eco-movements are spreading and consumers are increasingly choosing sustainable products and companies that emphasize their green goals. Still, despite contribution from businesses and consumers, this process takes time — time that we might not have right now.

Final note

With this in mind, it becomes clear that both governments and businesses worldwide need to take real climate change action. While the introduction of green laws and initiatives, along with holding annual conferences; is definitely a sign of good faith, talking alone will not solve the problem. Even without its flaws, the UK’s climate change fight could possibly serve as an example to other developed countries worldwide. However, before the real change can happen, the action will have to take place first. 

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