Spotlight Activity: Heat Waves, Widespread Climate Protests, Government Doubles International Finance Budget
The conversation on Climate Change in the UK is changing direction towards more outrage and talks for adaption. This has arguably been shaped by the heatwave in July that saw a new record for the hottest day ever in the UK with Cambridge University Botanic Gardens observing a temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.66 Fahrenheit) on the 25th of July.
This may be part of the motivation behind the widespread protests as Climate Strike continued across the country throughout August and September. On September 20, after a global call from Greta Thunberg, thousands abandoned work or school to attend the protests. The escalation saw more protests in cities outside the Capital, such as Glasgow, Manchester, Coventry and York, as opposed to London or Edinburgh. Some of these protests are accompanied or organized by Extinction Rebellion, who have begun staging die-ins where protesters fake their deaths by lying on the floor to capture the real threat that climate change poses.
In response, the UK government announced on the 23rd September at this year’s UN General Assembly, that it will double its International Climate Finance budget to meet a target of £11.6 billion over the next 5 years. The increased investments will go to developing countries to reduce Carbon emissions and slow down deforestation. It also includes adaptation measures like installing early-warning systems to flood prone areas or providing drought resistant crops to water scarce areas, and £1 billion will also go towards UK scientists to assist in finding new technological solutions.
Changes over the past three months include a new focus on farming, as farms are not only vulnerable to the effects of climate change but could also represent a major solution. While farmers are beginning to use robots to cut tractor use, plant more trees and keep livestock outside for longer (to reduce the need for soya feed), the National Farmers Union says they don’t need to actually cut down on meat production. They argue we can reuse the waste produced to fuel power stations and then offset the emissions. As livestock waste is a huge release of methane, with methane having ten times the effect on greenhouse warming than CO2, this would be a valuable solution. It may be a strong option as the NFU rejects any major land use change in the UK and the government needs them to cooperate for any serious climate change action in the future. However, the significance of these plans are yet to be seen as there are currently no signs of implantation.
Other solutions that have recently been proposed are to make our forests more resilient to hotter climates by introducing new species of trees and aiding in the survival of woodland creatures as the number of extinctions increases. In addition, the UK bogs will be restored to provide carbon sinks. Alternatively the UK government has recently suggested a nuclear fusion plant by 2040 as part of the net zero targets put in place. However, this has been deemed unrealistic by organizations such as Greenpeace who suggest more money needs to be invested in renewable energies and adaptation efforts.
Status: Moving Ahead
Dear Mr. Twigg,
I am pleased to hear the budget for Climate Change aid is being increased to help countries overseas. I think it is an excellent opportunity to shape international development towards a green agenda and may be able to encourage green growth. Your proposal highlights the cross-cutting nature of climate change into all other aspects of the economy and is a good model for future parliamentary policy.
However, one concern is that of the climate justice you discuss. How will it be possible for some developing countries to move towards a low carbon economy whilst expanding the national grids and power outlets to remote areas, such as the 800 million poor rural households that inhabit forest areas. It is critical that moving forward the aid budget tries to include these communities in future strategies, as this will also increase their climate resilience. If this can be achieved, I think the UK aid budget will be most effective.
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