May 18, 2024

Great Britain: Climate hotly debated

In Britain, the gap between lofty plans and reality is leading to embarrassing setbacks in climate policy. Last week, London’s High Court dismissed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government’s climate plan as insufficient and overly optimistic. In Edinburgh, Scotland’s Prime Minister Hamza Youssef was forced to resign after the premature collapse of his coalition with the Green Party. The controversy was fueled, among other things, by dealing with an important milestone on the way to climate neutrality (“net zero”).

Over the years, Empire has been happy to be a pioneer in climate protection. Labor prime minister Gordon Brown (2007–10) created a ministry for “energy security and net zero”, and in 2008 legislation set a target to cut climate-damaging emissions by 80 per cent. Conservative governments followed this policy. Under Prime Minister Theresa May (2016–19), the island became the first western industrialized country to set a legal climate neutrality target for 2050. His successor, Boris Johnson (2019-22), set a mid-term target to cut emissions by 68 percent. 2030.

Pessimistic reports from experts

Oversight and monitoring of the ambitious targets will be carried out by an independent Commission on Climate Change (CCC) made up of renowned experts, chaired for eleven years until 2023 by former Tory environment minister John Comer. Their reports have become more and more pessimistic recently. It has diluted key positions for both Sunak’s government and the Labor opposition, with all polls predicting victory in the next general election in the autumn. The High Court’s most recent actions – based on a case brought by several environmental groups against the government’s climate plan – are a reaction to a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court two years ago. Lobby groups such as Friends of the Earth argued that the government document contained too little information about the potential risks on the way to net zero goals, which were fully announced. They also criticized the belief in carbon capture and storage (CCS), i.e. storing harmful greenhouse gases in unused mines.

Ruling in favor of the petitioners, the court ordered the government to submit a new climate plan within a year. Undeterred, the ministry said, “the Kingdom should be very proud of its actions against climate change”.

Failed on the way to the destination

In Scotland, the CCC viewed with suspicion the statements and actions of Yusuf’s SNP government, which has been working in a formal agreement with the Greens since 2021. In March, the group announced it was “no longer confident” the Scottish Government could meet its 2030 emissions reduction target in Edinburgh. It has so far concluded that the measures are “not sufficient” to be within the framework of the adopted laws.

Climate Protection Minister Mairi McAllan immediately had to publicly say goodbye to the interim target. As the Greens later called a special party conference, the leader of the government quickly stopped co-operation. The weather was so toxic that the Prime Minister had to resign.

Chunak didn’t want to be too much

CCC people also have “little confidence” in the London central government’s climate target – a 68 per cent reduction by 2030. Prime Minister Sunak is seen as lax on climate protection. The head of government argued in the autumn that given Brexit and the continued poor economic conditions after the pandemic, one should not overwhelm the population. Economists and economists and environmentalists view this approach as flawed by ambitious emissions reductions. Chris Stark, who recently resigned as CCC director, recently identified the negative effects of the policy change. Kingdom “not enthusiastic” about investors in green energy projects. A planned auction of related government concessions for new offshore wind farms was recently canceled after no company showed interest.

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Stark attributes this primarily to President Joe Biden’s huge investment program in the United States, but in an interview with the “Financial Times” he also cited domestic political reasons: since Great Britain abandoned the intermediate goals, it is no longer considered globally important. Discussions were realized.