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The UK is set to miss targets to prevent catastrophe

In 2015, 196 countries came together to sign the Paris Climate Agreement that would pledge to reduce global warming to 1.5° Celsius – including Britain. 

Protests towards the government and its action towards achieving this goal have only increased since the agreement as many say the government is not doing enough to stick to this pledge. 

Just Stop Oil recently threw soup at a Van Gogh in London, Insulate Britain block motorways and busy roads and Extinction Rebellion continue to target industries and businesses that are involved in fossil-fuel extraction. 

Taking Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere as part of greenhouse gas emissions is the front line of dealing with the climate crisis. Governments around the world have committed to going ‘Net Zero’ – a term used to commit to offsetting any carbon emissions – by 2050 (UK). 

However, what does the data tell us? Below are two charts showing fossil-fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 – we’re using 1990 because the government has set a target of reducing Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions to 68% of pre-1990 levels. 

Simply, emissions and fossil fuel use are coming down compare to 1990 – except in one area: Natural gas. 

According to United Kingdom onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), gas is used to produce  80% of our heating and 30% of our electricity. 

Are we on track to hit ‘Net Zero’ by 2050? A report by the government released in March 2022 concluded that ‘the government is likely to miss its target for reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 unless it puts in place credible plans’. It goes on to say that the ‘target has not been matched by the policies and the clarity over financial incentives’. 

Campaign group ‘Paid to Pollute’ analysed data that suggests companies received £9.9billion in tax reliefs for the production of oil and gas and for the exploration of new sites. Not only this, £3.7billion was paid for decommissioning costs. Both were paid between 2016 and 2020. 

As the report stated ‘financial incentives’ have not been matched to the target of meeting net zero. In August 2022, only £37million in funding was dedicated to the production of sustainable biomass – one tenth of the funding that was spent on ‘decommissioning’. 

UK Vs The World. 

The climate crisis is a hot topic for newscasters across the world and MPs alike. A common theme comes up – the responsibility to change the course of the climate crisis isn’t just on Britain, Europe and the U.S. 

Below is a chart showing the carbon emissions per capita in different countries: 

The biggest polluters per capita are the oil-rich nations in the Middle East, followed by high oil-investing countries. The UK is considerably low down the table compared to some of its closest countries like Germany and Belgium. However, on the chart above on the right, the countries who spend the most on renewable energy transition in direct funding and per capita spending. 

The UK is spending more per capita on energy transition than France, the USA and China. This shows that although the UK isn’t going to hit the targets it has set, then many other countries may appear to follow suit based on these figures. What is clear from government reports and figures shown here is that much more needs to be done by the UK government and countries around the world to achieve the aims set out in Paris in 2015. COP 27, the global climate change summit, is taking place this week where many dignitaries will meet and discuss what needs to change. 

What do you think?