Climate Crisis – Impressive Targets or Stark Reality?
Katie Archbold discusses the climatic future of the UK and if targets to reduce extreme weather are enough or can even be met.
The Prime Minister recently announced an ‘ambitious’ plan to “reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by at least 68% by 2030” aiming “for net zero emissions by 2050”. These targets sound impressive, but with the UK already facing noticeable effects of extreme weather, is this enough?
Plan to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by at least 68% by 2030
This subject was addressed in a climate talk ‘To Adapt, Mitigate or Geoengineer?’ as part of ‘Challenges Online’ at the University of Exeter. It is a relevant question according to an independent report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which lists eight climate-related issues that should be addressed within the UK during the next two years.
Perhaps most noticeable is the effect of global warming on both the UK’s energy and transport infrastructure. We’ve all seen how people flock to the beach to avoid sweltering in their homes; transport is disrupted as train-tracks buckle in high temperatures, and hundreds of excess deaths from the heat occur. The CCC also criticises the government for building over half a million new homes since their last report which are unable to handle future high temperatures.
One article published by the BBC notes how as the UK transitions to “a low-carbon economy”, we rely more and more on electricity, “so power cuts because of extreme weather will hurt the country more”. Extreme weather will also disrupt supply chains and distribution networks of food, services and products, as well as posing a hazard to agriculture.
Additionally, the UK is facing increased emissions resulting from the deterioration of natural carbon stores such as peat bogs which absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Dr Pam Berry of the CCC describes how it is “critical to address the causes of climate change through mitigation […] to enhance our natural carbon stores […] through protecting and restoring our carbon-rich ecosystems”.
The UK could experience temperature highs of 40 degrees Celsius every three-and-a-half years
So, as Professor Richard Betts, head of climate impact research at the Met Office warns that “the UK could experience temperature highs of 40 degrees celsius every three-and-a-half years”, will the government actually take significant action to meet its ambitious targets?