After the Paris climate accord, there are large numbers of climate activists who are becoming increasingly frustrated.
The rich countries promised dramatic cuts to their emissions. These cuts will change the way the world works. However, as they are so far from business as normal, governments need to take a leading role in incentivising and requiring cuts (carrot and the stick).
In the UK, we did some good things, but they did not last. One example, is the green housing grant. This was ostensibly a program designed to get various trades people back to work by retrofitting buildings all over the country. The retrofit should in turn cut the carbon emissions of the house that they are used for, and therefore can help towards meeting our Paris climate accord. However, the program was closed a year earlier than was discussed, with the government claiming that it had succeeded in what it was there to do – namely boost the economy.
In the UK we spent over 300 billion on supporting the country from the effects of covid. Now this is right and proper – we were facing desperate threat, and without much money it could cost the UK far more.
WHY THEN ARE WE NOT TREATING CLIMATE CHANGE THE SAME WAY?
In the UK, if sea levels rise as far as predicted (due to melting ice caps) our country will become an archipelago of small islands. Surely the cost to the economy of this will be many trillions.
The green housing grant should be brought back, and funded to the tune of tens or hundreds of the size of the original project. Why not lead the world on this? With properly funded scheme, we could aim to do up a significant proportion of the uk housing.
The UK has roughly 24 million homes. Green housing grant vouchers have been issued to roughly 40,000 homes (as of February), with a little over 100,000 homes having applied. It needs to be an assumption, that all homes should have something done to cut their carbon footprint. We should be installing thermal Solar, if our application is successful. Furthermore, while the scaffolding is up, we will also add photovoltaic solar to our roof. These two acts combined, should cut our carbon footprint by as much as several tonnes a year. However, what I am trying to say is that we should not be unusual – every house in the country should be being improved. Of course, the government rules on new housing are not strict enough, which means that even with new build housing most homes do not have enough insulation or other carbon cutting methods when they are sold to their first owner.
Much has been made of the fact that we are hosting the climate conference later this year. I personally find the UKs moves over the last year an embarrassment and I would not want it highlighted.
Are we alone?
It is hard to find anything concrete that any country has done in cutting emissions since 2015. The USA has spent much of the time since the agreement was signed, under the leadership of Donald Trump, who said that the agreement was unfair to the USA (this is despite scientists calculating that without action the USA will loose more money than every other country except 2. While the election of Biden is a positive step, the country as a while needs to get on board – might we swing back again at the end of Bidens term?
Likewise, in Brazil, the time since the agreement was signed has not been good. Bolsonaro comes up for re-election next year, we must hope/pray that he doesn’t get another term. If he doesn’t, an efficient new president could make a big difference. However, a second term of Bolsonaro could be devastating for both Brazil and the world as a whole.
Frankly, in conclusion, no the rich countries are not trying very hard to live up to their promises. We will have to see what changes are made to governmental policies around the world after the G7 conference that is currently under way. However, the current situation looks extremely bleak. I am sure that I am not the only parent, concerned about the world that we leave our children – life is hard enough, they should hate us if we fail to make simple cheap changes to our lifestyle for their future.