United Kingdom Policy Recommendations

Spotlight Activity: United Kingdom Policy Recommendations

Under the EU commitment to reduce emissions 40% by 2050 from 1990 levels, the earth’s temperature has been estimated to increase by 2 degrees Celsius. Recently discussions around a 1.5 degrees Celsius tipping point have created an urgent need for enhanced action, following an IPCC report released in October. The Report highlights the unexpected impacts that we are already observing from Climate Change and suggests future predictions underestimated the extent Climate Change will impact human and environmental systems.

Under the 40% reduction, the EU is currently projected to have emitted 3420 MT (Metric Tonnes) CO2 by 2030. However, if we emit over 758 MTCO2, the 1.5 degrees ceiling is to be met. 758 MTCO2 is on track to a net-0 emissions scenario by 2030, which will make a 1.5 degree’s Celsius temperature increase more likely. The UK Climate Change Committee has recently outlined a plan to reach net-0 by 2050, with the UK parliament voting for a non-binding agreement that acknowledges we are in the middle of a climate emergency. The Scottish Parliament has already pledged to reach net-0 by 2045. Further action is necessary to reach net-0 by 2030 instead. 

UK environmental policies are currently focussed on agriculture, forestry, land use and fishing, in regards to improving efficiency and reducing waste, and technological innovation of renewable energies to cut emissions by 80% by 2050. In order to reach net-0 by 2030, the Climate Scorecard team proposes 3 additional policy objectives the UK should undertake;

Policy Recommendations

  1. Reduce International Offsets

The net-0 proposal by the UK Climate Change Committee only accounts for UK generation of CO2, and emissions from international aviation and international shipping. For the UK to truly help reduce global temperatures by 1.5 degrees, there needs to be a re-assessment of the UK’s impact to include its international offsets. With an increasing demand for Chinese imports, the UK needs to reduce its supply chain emissions to contribute to a net global reduction. However, the issue will be maintaining trade partnerships in a globalising world, and will require international trade partnerships that work on climate change with developing countries to build cooperative proactive strategies.

  1. Phase Out Fossil Fuel Energy Subsidies by 2025

The UK currently maintains extensive subsidies for fossil fuels, at £10.5 billion per annum, that fosters a low price for gas and oil. This is the largest fossil fuel subsidy in the EU. The G20 agreed to phase-out subsidies by 2020 in 2017, which has not occurred. The steady increase in energy intensity is therefore not a true reflection of efficiency improvements because the government is hiding the true cost of energy and effectively paying for the damage costs to natural capital that would otherwise increase the price for fossil fuel energies. These subsidies have been labelled ‘perverse subsidies’ due to the global damage they cause.

  1. Improve GHG Removal Techniques

To meet a 1.5 degrees ceiling, a negative emissions target will be necessary that goes beyond decarbonisation. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies have largely failed to fulfill the intended impact within the UK energy sector, and promote the continued use of carbon intensive energies. In contrast, GHG removal techniques can facilitate progress in sectors that are struggling to decarbonise. Techniques that are ready to deploy include reforestation and soil carbonisation sequestration. However, more investment is needed for techniques such as ocean fertilisation, mineral carbonation and direct air capture technologies. The government needs to provide incentives for the research and development of these technologies such as tax breaks and conditional subsidies that express the benefits of environmentally friendly corporate strategies.

Activity Rating: *** Right Direction

The policies proposed above make sense but their implementation is contingent on a variety of critical factors; A recognition of responsibility for international emissions, the devaluing of short-term political objectives that favour energy lobbying groups, and the employment of economic incentives for negative emissions.

Take Action

Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below. 

Dear Liam Fox,

After the release of the IPCCC report in October of last year, and the subsequent endorsement by the UKCCC, it is clear more needs to be done on the issue of GHG abatement if we are to help restrict the global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030.

As the UK is a global player in international trade, the true extent of our global emissions needs to be acknowledged. Taking into account international supply chains and the extent of our increasing imports as we move to a service industry economy, our Paris Agreement pledge should address our total domestic and international emissions. 

Climate Scorecard proposes addressing these critical issues by forming international environmental trade partnerships with our three main trading partners, the US, the EU and China. The UK can play an important role in setting international environmental standards for imports from countries that are not currently on track to meet Paris Agreement pledges. 

This could be done in a similar fashion to the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety, igniting the precautionary principle against imports with a high GHG emissions rating. This would create a positive dialogue for future trade in a time of uncertainty for EU-UK relations. To ensure it does not create a barrier to trade, the import restrictions could come into force at a date set in the future, whilst positive plans are formulated to reach sustainable trade and mutual benefits for all parties.

I acknowledge these proposals may seem radical. Yet, in light of the consequences of inaction I hope at least they spark inspiration on the future trade agreements we build with our global trading partners at this critical juncture, and promote the possibility of international sustainable development.

Send Action Alert Message to:

Department for International Trade Secretary – Liam Fox 

The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, 

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Email: fox.correspondence@trade.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7215 5000

Website to leave message: https://www.liamfox.co.uk/contact

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