Spotlight Activity: Calls for Further Actions to Implement the 2008 Climate Change Act
Spotlight Activity Report: 2018 has been a year of evaluation for the UK policy on climate change. It is the 10th anniversary of the original Climate Change Act 2008. New independent reports have tackled the legacy and impact of these measures.
A report by London School of Economics found that the main achievements of the Climate Act have been institutional and procedural, rather than practical. In other words, the Climate Act has helped maintain consensus across parties for the need of climate change mitigation, and has promoted devolution of power to local communities in tackling climate change; however, it has not provided sufficient mechanisms to monitor progress and hold the government accountable for their climate policies. One of the biggest criticisms of the Climate Act is that while it had well defined carbon emission targets, it had no well defined carbon reduction policies, leading to investors’ uncertainty in future Government policies and fear of inconsistency between different Cabinets’ approaches to the issue. Even more worrisome is the fact that the report found that in spite its efforts, “the UK is not currently on track to meet its statutory carbon targets for the mid-2020s and early 2030s”.
This is significant in the context of the alarm bells that activists have been raising throughout the year. Many have pointed to the fact that the UK Government’s excessive focus on climate mitigation is obscuring the importance of adaptation policies, especially in the light of unprecedented heat waves and drought that has afflicted the country in this past summer, and the rising flooding emergencies. For many activists, the Government’s dual decision to expand Heathrow airport while discarding the plan for a new Swansea tidal lagoon on the same day represents the failure of the current leadership to grasp the extent of the threat of climate change.
A second report commissioned by the Climate Change Committee (CCC)–UK independent monitoring body–and conducted by Imperial College highlights the importance of energy efficiency and the risks that a poorly managed transition to a low carbon economy will entail. The report finds that “The studies demonstrate that the decarbonisation of electricity generation and improvement of system flexibility are essential irrespective of the adopted heat decarbonisation strategy”. Yet in spite of this, the Government has decided to cut Feed-In Tariff (FiT)–a Government scheme designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies–which have in the past years been the backbone of community-led projects for low carbon energy. Local activists at the Low Carbon Hub (Oxford, UK) remarked how this move has already affected the community, forcing the organisation to cut two municipal heating projects due to lack of funding.
Another prominent grassroots organization for cleaner community energy provision, Community Energy England, has already produced a report on the positive impact of FiT, calling for the Government to retain them.
Status: Standing Still
The findings of the report per se are not as worrying, since there is still a viable path forward to reach zero net emissions.However, the developments in 2018 warrant two stars due to the fact that the directions taken by the Government with the expansion of Heathrow and the cut of FiT are a decisive step away from climate mitigation.
Action Alert Message:
“We urge the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to reconsider the government plan to cut Feed-in Tariff (FiT) by April 2019. We take note both of the recent Imperial College London Report on Alternative Paths to Heat Decarbonisation, which highlights the importance of decarbonisation of electricity to reach emission targets, and the Consultation on the Feed-in Tariff scheme of Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales, which highlights how important the scheme has been for community projects. In the light of both academics’ and activists’ recommendation, we believe the maintenance of the FiT scheme is central to future climate mitigation in the UK”
Rt Hon Claire Perry MP
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 7050
Fax: 0207 219 1385
Imperial College London Report on alternative paths to Decarbonisation:
London School of Economics – Grantham Institute: report
Article on the UK leadership failure to confront the growing threat of climate change: Lord Deben of the CCC (Climate Change Committee) warns UK Cabinet
Article on Heathrow and Swansea policies and their significance for wider UK climate change policies
Low Carbon Hub, Oxford: https://lowcarbonhub.org