Climate change is an important matter governments around the world have been dealing with over the past several decades. Greenhouse gases make the earth warmer; recently, over 11 thousand scientists from different countries have signed a warning about the climate emergency that the earth is facing. For more than four decades, scientists from around the world have warned about climate change. At the Geneva Summit 1979, Rio Summit 1992, in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and the Paris Agreement of 2015, scientists sounded the same alarm about the future of the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen and damaged the global climate. The richest countries have the greatest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Although without greenhouse gases the earth would become a frozen place, too much of it creates global warming to such an extent that it causes dangerous climate changes. Deforestation and fossil fuels have led to increases in greenhouse gases, which affect the environment, humans and animals badly and make living for every creature much harder.
According to scientists, the future effects of climate change in the UK are extensive. Temperature rises mean that there will be hotter summers and unprecedented cold winters. Moreover, climate change will change rainfall rates that will lead to wet winters and flash floods, also changes of rainfall will place more pressure on freshwater resources. Other severe changes include droughts, thunders, heatwaves and heavy snowfall. Sea levels will also rise, which can lead to more coastal erosion. Food and water will be affected as well and some diseases like skin cancers and heatstroke may increase. Water shortages and high food prices will change peoples’ lives drastically. The agriculture sector will be affected and cultivation will change. Wildlife will also experience changes, and fish, birds and land animals will be under threat. Due to environmental changes, all plants and forests will experience damages.
With greenhouse gases, the planet Earth becomes a difficult place to live.
Although many governments vowed to reduce greenhouse gases, they have not taken effective action to date. Recently, the UK Government, in a media gesture, vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 68% by 2030 and get to net-zero by 2050. In Nov 2020, pressures on Boris Johnson grew to cut emissions, and he faced a different test in his green obligations. The UK has been running behind in the race against time and in order to keep its commitments, all financial sectors have to adopt plans to move to net-zero emissions by mid-century. According to a report, the Conservative Government and Treasury clashed over the cost of creating green jobs. The 10-point plan of the prime minister has been delayed and there has been pressure on the Treasury to cope with the economic crisis of the pandemic. But with the second nationwide lockdown, the budget deficit is now 20% of GDP and the Treasury has to devote billions of pounds of additional grants for businesses in the hardest-hit industries.
Economic pressure of climate change and pandemic are upon the UK government
Last week, Boris Johnson claimed that the UK will cut greenhouse emissions drastically and said he will put the country among the top countries fighting climate change. He claimed the UK will reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Johnson also announced that next year’s climate change summit will be hosted by the UK. In a gesture to lead other countries, Johnson asked world leaders to bring forward their plans to cut emissions and set net-zero objectives. It will call on the British people to use fewer flights, use electric cars, consume a lesser amount of meat and replace their gas boilers with greener options. In 2016, the UK pledged to target an 80% emissions cut by 2050, but now Boris Johnson has declared a net-zero target. This also puts pressure on the EU to agree to a 55% emissions reduction by 2030; if the EU fails to keep up with the UK, it can be embarrassed on an international level. Boris Johnson seeks to upgrade Britain’s global position by demonstrating worldwide leadership on climate change after the country left the EU. On a domestic level, he seeks to take a strong position against the Opposition Party. The Labour Party, in its 2019 election campaign, promised a “Green Industrial Revolution”. But Johnson has to set out a detailed plan to show how his government is going to achieve its goal.
After Brexit Johnson seeks a leading role by claiming net-zero emission cuts.
The failure of most governments thus far to produce policy reactions equal to the challenges of climate change has been to some extent due to the policy positions of political parties in different countries, including the UK. The UK’s Green Party is much less successful as compared to the Conservative and Labour parties. In its 2019 manifesto, it declared that it is going to invest 100bn pounds a year until 2030 to fight against climate change; of course, this money is going to be provided mostly by borrowing. It would cost 1tn pounds over ten years to reach a zero-carbon economy. Providing that money is not an easy job, but it is also questionable how realistic it is to decarbonize the UK completely in ten years.
Nevertheless, the role of political parties in climate change is an important one. Until 2006, emissions cuts featured low on the domestic agenda of the Labour and Conservative parties. The Labour Government set a 20% reduction in emissions in 2010. In that year, during the election campaign, both Labour and Conservative parties promised stronger measures to execute new climate policies. But in 2011, the Conservative Government’s Chancellor said climate policies may hit the economic efforts and emphasised that the government was not going to save the planet while pushing the UK out of business. Now, with the UK withdrawal from the EU, the Conservative Prime Minister once again has made promises and pledges for strong measures to reduce emissions, while it seems a strong plan is not set forward with all business and budget considerations.