THE UK Low Carbon Transition Plan outlines a route map to a low carbon future. The Plan is the most systematic response to climate change and sets the standard in the run up to crucial climate talks in Copenhagen in December. Public support is crucial if the plan is to arrive at its ultimate destination.
The recently published UK climate change predictions show how Britain will be affected by climate change over the next century. The projections are broken down into 600 local areas, each just 25km across. The predictions suggest that by 2080s average temperatures will probably rise across the UK by 3-5C by the 2080s unless emissions are reduced significantly. South-east England will warm more than northern Scotland. Rainfall could reduce by 50% in summer and increase 30% in winter. Summer droughts and winter flooding will become more frequent.
The Government’s comprehensive low carbon transition plan sets out how the UK will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. A 21% reduction has already been delivered – this equivalent to cutting emissions entirely from four cities the size of London. The transformation to a cleaner, greener and more prosperous place Britain will mean by 2020 there will be:
• More than 1.2 million people will be in green jobs
• 7 million homes will have benefited from whole house makeovers, and more than 1.5 million households will be supported to produce their own clean energy
• 40% of electricity will be from low carbon sources, from renewables, nuclear and clean coal
• The amount of gas that we import will be cut by half
• The average new car will emit 40% less carbon than now.
The transition plan will cut emissions from homes by 29% on 2008 levels by:
• Investing £3.2bn to help households become more energy efficient.
• Rolling out smart meters in every home by the end of 2020.
• Piloting “pay as you save” ways to help people make their whole house greener – the savings made on energy bills will be used to repay the up-front costs.
• Introducing clean energy cash-back schemes so that people and businesses will be paid if they use low-carbon sources to generate heat or electricity.
• Opening a competition for 15 towns, cities and villages to be at the forefront of pioneering green innovation.
The plan together with all existing and new climate change policies means that by 2020 household energy bill will increase by an average, of 8% – or £92 – to today’s household bills. The public are already sceptical of further increases in bills especially in the current economic recession. The challenge of climate change requires convincing the public to make sacrifices and changes to their way of life for the sake of future generations.
Many opinion formers are already using their positions to influence public opinion. HRH Prince Charles delivering this year’s Richard Dimbleby Lecture, said there are now only “96 months left” to save the planet. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood recently appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on the BBC encouraging people to create their own clothing and wear them until they fall off their bodies, rather than mindless conspicuous consumption which has left everyone looking alike. She talked about need for everyone to take action to tackle climate change.
Public attitudes to climate changes are already starting to change. This year’s British social attitudes survey showed that the public are ready to accept a steep rise in air fares to reduce the environmental damage caused by flying. However, there is still a considerable portion of the population who need to be convinced that the changes we make to our lifestyles now will be worthwhile in in the long term. Our future climate will be dependent on the choices we are willing to make today.
© Gary Haq 2009