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UK government’s vision for a global climate change deal

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to Edward Davey MP, ‘for the firs time we have the key ingredients in place that give us a real chance of a truly global deal on climate change’.

‘In 2009, at Copenhagen many felt that momentum was lost – and with that fail in the international process. But over the past few years, momentum has shifted decisively’.

We are increasingly seeing bottom up action on climate change, with national climate change legislation proliferating, carbon pricing mechanisms spreading and new policies and regulations being introduced. Almost 500 climate laws have been passed in 66 of the world’s largest emitting countries.

It is not just the rich industrialized countries taking action. Last year alone Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria passed climate change legislation. Mexico has followed the UK’s example and put in place a comprehensive climate change law, with medium and long term targets.

Carbon markets, which can reduce the cost of emissions reduction, have now been put in place in over 40 countries. This is happening at a sub-national level as well – counties, states and local governments are acting.

The big four

Davey emphasized that no deal can be successful it we don’t have the world’s largest carbon emitters onboard – the EU, China, the US and India. Together they produce around half of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In India, the election of Prime Minister Modi has changed the mood. ‘Having met him, I believe that he has the will and commitment to duplicate the effective low carbon policies he implemented in Gujarat across the whole of India, and bring a constructive India to the negotiating table in the lead up to Paris’, said Davey.

Davey went on to say that for India, development and poverty reduction must go hand in hand with climate change action. ‘This is why over the coming months we need to make sure that developing countries are convinced that a deal will be equitable and provide support to those who need it, but especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to build climate resilience”.

In China, President Xi Jinping has been pursuing his vision of ecological civilization that softens its tread upon the earth. The vision embeds climate action in its national planning process and created tough sanctions for officials and companies flouting environmental legislation.

China is working to decarbonise its fuel demand and is already the world’s largest non-fossil fuel energy producer.

In regards to the US, Davey commented that since Kyoto in 1990, many have seen the country as more of a problem than part of the solution. However, many US states have been acting where the Federal government has failed to do so. More than 20 states have energy efficiency targets and over 30 have set renewable energy targets.

And now, Davey claims, under President Obama, the Climate Action Plan of 2013 should enable the US to get back on track, including proposing robust emissions regulations for power plants.

Meanwhile, the challenge for Europe is to maintain its course, despite the obvious economic problems in the Euro Zone.

Action at home

Davey claims that the UK has been at the forefront of helping to shape the right kind of climate change architecture that can work.

The 2008 Climate Change Act was the world’s first long term, legally binding national framework for reducing emissions. The country’s five year carbon budgets, that will eventually reach out to 2050, are now being looked at as a potential model in other countries.

The 2013 Energy Act is creating the world’s first low carbon electricity market, and the UK is attracting record amounts of investment in renewables.

Paris 2015

The Government has now published its vision for an agreement in Paris next year.

Davey accentuates that a credible and fair agreement is required, that promises emissions reductions from all countries and reflects the abilities of each country to make reductions.

The most advanced economies have to make the most ambitious commitments, reflecting their responsibility for emissions and their capacity to absorb change. The EU should show a lead this year by agreeing an ambitious 2030 framework with a domestic target of at least 40%.

Finally, he emphasized that climate change is an inter-generational challenge that will require successful political generations to renew their commitment. 

Adapted from a speech by Emma McAleavey.

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