There is often an argument put forwards in the UK, that as the UK is just a small country we cannot do much when it comes to global warming. After all we only emit about 1% of the worlds emissions, right?
Well firstly, given the world has a population of 8 billion (roughly speaking) and we have a population of about 67 million, so we are only about 0.8% of the worlds population, yet are emitting 1% of emissions.
This clearly means that as a country, we are emitting more than our fair share at the current time- and the world needs to reduce their emissions. This means that the UK needs to reduce its emission by a great deal.
Indeed, if we were to say that as we only emit 1% of world emissions we need do nothing, then the world has a problem. The UK is currently the 17th greatest emitter. Worse, the emissions from us and those countries emitting more add up to more than 75% of global emissions.
We need to be cutting our emissions drastically in the next couple of decades. Furthermore, much of this cut can be driven by personal choice. 24% of UK emissions come from road transport. Now some of this is made by lorries and buses, never the less, at least 10% of the countries emissions are down to personal cars – given that few people keep cars for more than 10 years, it would be possible to replace all of this with electric in a decade or less.
The other problem with this sum, is that it is incorrect. While we only produce about 1% of global emissions directly, when you add in all the emissions from manufacturing items for your use (which happens abroad) as well as the various fiddles which exclude much of the aviation pollution, we are talking about 2% of emissions – putting us at around twice the global average per head.
More alarming still, one third of global emissions comes from countries which each individually emit 1% of global emissions or less, and half from countries emitting 3% or less.
Of course this is not surprising, as there are only a handful of countries which emit more
China- 29.18%, USA 14.02%, India 7.09%, Russia 4.65%, and Germany emitting 2.17%.
What does this say? Well apart from the fact that it is clear that these countries need to reduce their emissions, even if they all reduced emissions to zero there are still significantly more emission cuts required.
There are many opportunities to grow economies as we transition. Leading the way will not only help the climate situation, but is likely to give our country a big boost to the economy and therefore to our GDP. The decoupling of GDP and carbon emissions has been relatively successful over the last decade, but this process must only continue. While the readership of this website is not currently vast (I hope it will grow over time) we have the capacity of cutting our combined emissions by tens of kilotonnes, by switching to electric cars, as well as thermal solar panels and similar technology.