The government has the potential to be an important – perhaps the most important – part of the solution to the twin problems of climate change and peak oil.
It’s the government that:
- Signs up to international treaties and agreements
- Makes laws and sets technical standards and regulations – like building insulation codes and speed limits, and planning guidelines
- Sets levels of taxation
- Spends money – to build things, to fund research, to give grants and other incentives
- Sets policy – including transport and energy policy
The government can show leadership – through example, as major energy user, and by its power to communicate to individuals and organisations how serious is the challenge facing us. The government writes the rules by which the market operates and edits the choices that individuals can make.
Right now the government talks a good fight against climate change. It writes great reports and policy documents, and it sets up new organisations like the Sustainable Development Commission and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It has passed the Climate Change Act, (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2006/ukpga_20060019_en_1 ) which set targets for reducing emissions. But at the same time it is planning to expand airports, permit new coal-fired power stations and build new roads.
The treasury’s Stern Review (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/stern_review_climate_change.htm) talked about climate change as “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen” there is a stark contrast between the way in which the government has responded to this catastrophe in the making and the speed with which it reacted to the banking crisis.
HM Govenment; Policy Review
Environment and Energy
The origin of the UK’s energy supplies is changing. By 2020, the UK will be importing the majority of its gas and more than half its oil. Like other major energy-using countries, the UK is also set to become more dependent on a small number of suppliers in less stable parts of the world. Around a third of the country’s electricity generation capacity will need to be replaced by 2025.
At the same time, it is increasingly apparent that there is an extra cost to the exploitation of fossil fuels and natural resources and the changes in land use from which much of the global economy has drawn its income. The scientific advice is clear – human activity is altering our climate and, with it, the systems that support life on Earth.
These challenges should be tackled together. Promoting energy efficiency can reduce our dependence on energy while reducing our carbon emissions. Developing renewable technologies such as wind power has the potential to dramatically decrease our impact on the climate while lowering our demand for fossil fuels. Energy security and climate change are not independent threats.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs climate and energy website is so full of links to follow that we pass on their link for you to study.
The Law now commits the Government to 80 per cent cuts in the UK’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, including emissions from aviation and shipping, and with annual targets along the way to keep us on track.Parliament voted pn 28 October for the legislation after a 3 and 1/2 year campaign by Friends of the Earth.
Congratulations Friends of the Earth!