Yesterday the government unveiled its latest long-term projections, and delivered a broad five-point plan for dealing with climate change:
1. Protecting the public from immediate risk
Climate change is already happening in the UK – the Government has more than doubled spending on flood protection since 1997, developed a heat wave plan in the NHS and is helping communities affected by coastal erosion.
2. Preparing for the future
Whatever is done to reduce emissions in the future, past emissions mean that some climate change is already inevitable. Defra’s UK Climate Projections published today will be used to help plan for a future with a changing climate. It’s planned that over 100 providers of important public services will be required to report on their assessment of climate risks and their plans to respond to these. Government Departments will also be producing Adaptation Plans by April 2010. Building climate risk into decision making means, for example, changing the way we build our houses and infrastructure, managing water better and adjusting farming practices.
3. Limiting the severity of future climate change through a new international climate agreement
To limit global temperature increases to less than two degrees and avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, the Government is leading international efforts to achieve a new international climate agreement at Copenhagen in December. We must ensure global emissions start to fall within the next decade and be at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. Later in June the Government will set out its aims for the Copenhagen deal.
4. Building a low carbon UK
To play our part in reducing global emissions, Britain needs to become a low carbon country. The 2008 Climate Change Act made Britain the first country in the world to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’, aiming to cut UK emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 through investment in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies such as renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage.
5. Supporting individuals, communities and businesses to play their part
Everyone has a role to play in tackling climate change, from reducing their own emissions to planning for adaptation. Building on our ‘Act on CO2’ information campaign, the Government is providing a range of support for individuals, communities and businesses, including a major programme of financial help for home insulation and energy efficiency.
These are obviously the high-level points, and the real action is yet to be seen. It’s also just a UK plan, and doesn’t include adaptation money for developing countries, which would come under our aid strategy.
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