Last week, Springwise attended a webinar on achieving Net Zero, run by our media partner, the French Chamber of Great Britain.
At a recent webinar hosted by the French Chamber of Great Britain, key speakers Catherine Chardon, Managing Director of RATP Dev London and Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change and Founder and Director of Sancroft, discussed how the UK is responding to calls to cut carbon emissions to net-zero.
The UK was one of the first major economies to commit to cutting carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and to achieve this, it faces challenges such as eradicating the use of heavily-relied upon fossil fuels. Moreover, in light of the challenges posed by its exiting the European Union in January 2021, potentially without a deal, this pledge is even more highly anticipated.
The Committee on Climate Change was formed to help enact the legal obligation to bring emissions down to net-zero by 2050 and indeed, since its formation, 12-13 more countries have followed suit with their own committees. This committee is comprised primarily of scientists and economists, who hold the government accountable as a whole, but who also report on how well each minister and department is keeping the requirements.
Importance of Political Affiliations
Lord Deben made the point that, unlike countries such as the US, the Climate Change Act, which was originally proposed by the Conservatives, is now a cross-party concept. This means that the process is very hard to reverse. Although parliament still has democratic control, future parliaments cannot change carbon budgets currently being presented without repealing the Climate Change Act altogether, for which they would need a large majority and therefore the committee has managed to make the pledge nearly impossible to reverse.
The UK, alongside other developed countries, has a responsibility to take on most of the burden of climate change. We are one of the countries who caused the pollution of the world with our industrial revolutions, and we must pay the price, in order for developing nations to become richer and more sustainable at the same time. Climate change is the symptom of our greed; we are the disease to tackle.
Catherine Charon acknowledged that in the past, old diesel buses that couldn’t be used for more than 14 years in the UK were donated to developing countries such as India, upping their carbon emissions even as we congratulated ourselves on reducing ours. Like we must be accountable, we must also aim to help other countries to fund cheap alternatives to fossil fuels and see sustainability as part of the solution. Moreover, we must collaborate in an international circular economy. In the UK, we import batteries for electric buses from China, where they are much further developed, and if we can all work together like this, we will get to where we need to be by 2050.
There’s Still a Lack of Urgency
Despite the Paris Agreement, there is still a lack of urgency across Europe. But the problem will only grow in both expense and severity if we leave it. In cities, we must look at the way we move around, a point that has been proven by reduced emissions during the COVID-19 lockdowns. We must look at how we use our land and restore the fertility of soils and the sequestrating of our oceans. We must pressure the UN together to insist that aircraft and international shipping emissions are included in our calculations. We must help to make COP 26 a success, and ultimately, work together efficiently and urgently.
Written By: Holly Hamilton
3rd December 2020