Amber Rudd, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has been accused of hypocrisy by environmentalists as she appeared at the Paris climate change summit. The key critique being that the UK is responding positively on measures to mitigate climate change risks globally, whilst moving in the opposite direction with domestic energy policy This follows cuts in subsidies for renewable electricity generation, curtailing the carbon capture and storage competition and cutting back on energy efficiency programmes.
Further criticism on climate finance
Another critique comes from the international community for using funds from the regular international aid budget to fund its doubling of aid to poorer countries, with the claim that climate finance should be new and additional funding. However, ministers say that they are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term, with a key UK goal to achieve a: “robust, legally-binding rules framework to ensure transparency and accountability,” to ensure countries deliver on their emission cuts promise. Questions continue to be asked about how the UK will reconcile its current shift on energy policy.
Deal to limit global temperature
Meanwhile, talks to agree a deal between richer and poorer nations, setting emissions targets to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees centigrade or less, were protracted but finally an agreement was published. There was confirmation of the aim to keep global temperature rise within 2 degrees, but also a statement that we should be aiming for 1.5 degrees to help protect the island states most liable to flood due to rising sea levels.
Every five years all countries are asked to review their emission reduction commitments making them tougher to achieve, with the aim of reaching ‘carbon neutrality’ in the second half of the century. The statement also acknowledges that from 2020 $100billion needs to be raised each year (in loans and donations) to finance adaptation or emission reduction projects. The agreement can only be entered into once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55% of emissions. The agreement is open for signing in New York from 22 April.