Unlike most news that involve countries not meeting goals, the UK is successfully meeting short-term goals. Britain’s official greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.7% in 2017 compared to 2016.
A large part of this is due to a 27% decrease in coal use for electricity generation. However, while this is great news, the UK still has a multitude of challenges left to tackle to meet their long-term goal of cutting emissions by 80% in 2050.
The UK’s Current Climate Goals
The UK is fully embracing climate change concerns and is currently aiming for an 80% emission decrease by 2050. However, that number is likely to change to 100% due to the demand for greener policies. Sadly, for either of these long term goals, Britain has its work cut out for it.
Current policies are certainly lowering emissions, which is more than can be said for most of the world, but it is far from enough. In particular, transport, agriculture, and parts of industry are the biggest hurdles in achieving this.
Policies Not Matching Long Term Goals
While no one can deny that emissions are decreasing, in the grand scheme of things, the long term goals will not be met. For example, transport produces the most emissions in the UK. To combat this the government is promoting cycling, but they are not filling potholes and improving cycling roads. Instead, they are investing in major roadways for cars.
Another great example of this is railroads. They are a great alternative to cars, but the commuter services are underfunded. Instead, the government is pouring resources into High Speed 2, a highspeed railway. While this is good, the resources are better spent improving the existing railways.
The next biggest problem is the emissions generated by power plants. While you would assume that any country serious about cutting emissions would fully embrace green energy like wind and solar, you would be mistaken in Britain. Instead, the government has essentially banned any new onshore wind farms from being built.
As you can see, their actions will continue to make long term goals impossible to achieve unless policies start matching what they are saying.
Climate Neutral EU
The UK’s selection of 2050 was not a coincidence. The EU proposed plans that would make it the first major economy to become climate neutral. And you probably already guessed it, but that target is also for 2050. This date is special because it is the halfway point of the century.
The Paris Agreement was intended to limit the effects of global warming to a 1.5C temperature increase by the end of the century. We are very far off from this goal and if significant reductions are not met by 2050, it will become impossible to minimize the damage.
Even A World Leader Is Struggling To Do Enough
The UK is certainly one of the most influential leaders on climate policy and that began over a decade ago with the Climate Change Act in 2008. Ever since then the UK has been fully committed to significantly cutting their emissions, but even they are struggling to meet their long-term goals.
This is extremely worrisome because many other countries are not even close to putting the same amount of effort as the UK. While global efforts like the Paris Agreement are becoming more strict, they still lack any type of enforcement.
As the Emissions Gap Report 2018 highlighted, many nations are not doing their fair share. And if nothing is done, we will lose our only chance at preventing future environmental disaster.