follow us
Dot by Dot is Supported by:
supported by
Saturday 17 February 2018
17 February 2018 - NEWS UPDATE
Climate Change

Davey describes effect of failure to reduce global carbon emissions as catastrophic

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the Government is committed to reducing carbon emissions because the effects of the current pace of climate change will be catastrophic. He wants the upcoming Doha Conference to tighten the legally binding Durban agreement for all countries to further reduce global emissions.

Mr Davey said the latest analysis by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that current global pledges to 2020, even interpreted in the most favourable way possible, would only get us half the way towards a two-degree trajectory.

"That leaves a lot of work to do to avoid a path leading inexorably towards the level of climate change that is rightly described as catastrophic – and leading more immediately to an emissions gap in 2020 of a minimum of six gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.

"Any amount of climate change – be it one degree, two degrees or more, and regardless of its cause – places all our economies at risk," he said today in a speech to Chatham House.

"At home, intense rainfall, more extreme weather and wetter winters will significantly increase the UK's existing vulnerability to flooding. That threatens not only to affect people's homes, but also to hit the operation of businesses, with increased threats of damage and disruption, including to supply chains. It could also threaten critical infrastructure systems. And we're already seeing the impact on food production and prices."

Mr Davey said climate changed not only posed risks to the long-term economic growth of economies around the world, including our own but on the flip side, we can see that tackling it brings economic opportunities.

He added: "In the UK, of course, we are committed to reducing our own carbon emissions, with a system of carbon budgets providing a clear trajectory to our 2020 and 2050 targets.

"Within the EU, we are pressing for a move to a 30% target for 2020. This would show leadership at a European level, and also ensure that we are well placed to benefit from low carbon energy infrastructure investments and energy efficiency improvements.

"But delivering an inclusive, legally binding agreement remains the most effective means of reducing global emissions in line with our agreed goal of limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

"Last year in Durban, as part of a finely balanced package, we agreed to adopt by 2015 a global, legally binding agreement that will come into effect in 2020. That is a realistic timetable, one that requires us to make steady progress. That means that we are not facing a one-time-only opportunity at Doha. We need to agree a work-plan for the negotiations to 2015, but we don't have to bet the farm on achieving everything in one go.

"We are seeking at Doha to build the elements of our climate regime, such as finance, adaptation, accounting, and new market mechanisms, which are needed pre-2020, and which the post-2020 agreement can take further. We need also to make progress in understanding and implementing the emissions pledges we have on the table from a large number of developed and developing countries.

"However, as it is already clear that those pledges are insufficient, we urgently need to increase our ambition on mitigation before the new agreement comes into force. This means looking at complementary initiatives, additional to national pledges, that can close the gap."

Mr Davey said a global deal will be important for setting the framework for developing low-carbon economies. That will boost growth and investment, here in the UK and internationally. We have the opportunity to create the clarity, certainty and confidence that business seeks.

The CBI reported recently that the UK's low-carbon sector grew 2.3% in real terms in 2010-11, beating global green business growth, to carve out a £122bn share of a world market that's worth £3.3 trillion.

He said: "The train is already moving in the right direction, but a good outcome at Doha will allow us to yell "all aboard" to investors and businesses thinking of joining or expanding their role in the sector.

"The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations are complex, and I do not pretend that Doha will be easy. There are significant political challenges, with a small and sometimes a large P. Outside the negotiations, this is a period of political upheaval – the Eurozone discussions are ongoing, we watch the US elections with considerable interest, and the next six months will see the leadership in China go through a generational change. And, in difficult economic times, measures with an upfront cost can be unappealing, even if the medium term benefits heavily outweigh that cost, and no matter how severe the long-term risks of not acting.

"But I am going to Doha with a clear mission to deliver meaningful progress on the Durban package.

"I am doing this to ensure that we can address the risks that climate change poses to us all, to our security and prosperity. And I am doing this so that we can take advantage of the opportunities that the transition to a low-carbon economy offers for growth and investment, here in the UK and worldwide."

Get involved and join the twitter conversation #climatechange

Related News