Greenhouse gasses, global warming, and catastrophic climate change have been subjects of controversy for decades, and time is running out, but the UK is making impressive strides in its efforts to protect the planet.
2008 Climate Change Act
An Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Climate Change Act 2008 is a landmark piece of legislation. It is the “world’s first legally binding national commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.” Under the Act, the UK must reduce all six Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by at least 80% by 2050.
2016 Paris Agreement
In 2016, the UK joined forces with countries around the world to tackle global warming when it became one of the signatories of the Paris Agreement. Participants who signed the agreement pledged to limit increases in average global temperatures to much less than 2℃ above preindustrial levels.
2018 Updates to the National Adaptation Programme (NAP)
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK is required to submit a report every five years that includes a risk assessment of climate change. As a result, in 2018, the United Kingdom updated the National Adaptation Programme (NAP) – its strategy for tackling global warming and climate change. The 128-page plan sets out how the UK plans to reduce vulnerability to the dangerous changes past and current greenhouse gas emissions have caused.
Despite efforts to make the United Kingdom more resilient to climate change, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) says the UK is not focusing its efforts on one key area: resilience to severe temperatures. The EAC reports that if more action is not taken, approximately 7,000 heat-related deaths will occur annually in the UK by 2050.
Net Zero Amendment
In 2019, the UK amended the Climate Change Act 2008 and made a commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gases by 2050. To reach net zero, homes, businesses, transportation, farming, and industry must eliminate emissions completely. If emissions cannot be reduced to zero, other methods like planting trees and using carbon dioxide capture and storage techniques can help offset the amount of C02 in the atmosphere.
Low Carbon Energy
The United Kingdom pledged in the 2019 Offshore Wind Sector Deal to shift one-third of its energy generation to offshore wind energy by 2030. In 2018, renewable energy combined with electricity from nuclear reactors made up more than half (almost 53%) of the UK’s electricity use.
According to scientists, even a 1.5℃ rise in the Earth’s temperature could have disastrous effects. Severe heatwaves could destroy crops and expose about 14% of the Earth’s population to dangerous temperatures. Just a 2℃ rise in the Earth’s temperature could cause severe water and food shortages, extreme weather events, and rising seas. An estimated 140 million people could be displaced by 2050.
Climate change threatens every area of the globe and its effects are already evident in some areas. In February 2020, for instance, a severe heatwave in Antarctica seared away approximately 20% of Eagle Island’s snow cover in just 9 days. The wildfires that destroyed over one-fifth of Australia’s forests have been linked to rising temperatures and a years-long drought.
The battle to prevent global warming will be a long one. As the crisis continues to transform the planet, it is the responsibility of communities to make a difference. The David Boehrer Law Firm in Henderson, Nevada is dedicated to working towards the best possible solution.