With heatwaves occurring across the UK and Europe, the effects of climate change are evident. Yet the likelihood of these extreme weather events is set to increase if countries do not take action; even though politicians have committed to keeping temperatures below 1.5C, governments worldwide are not doing enough to combat climate change.
Without government planning, the changes needed to ensure the UK sticks to its climate commitments are essential.
What is the UK doing?
The UK adopted the Climate Change Act in 2008, becoming the first country in the world to make a legally binding national commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The Act sets out a framework for climate mitigation and commits the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, alongside creating a Climate Change Committee to advise the government on its emissions target and progress.
In 2019, the UK government amended the Climate Change Act to commit the UK to achieving net zero by 2050 and announced it would reduce its emissions to 78% by 2035. The UK is also party to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C.
To make these commitments a reality, the Government has introduced a range of measures and policies. An example is a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, with all cars needing to be zero emission from 2035. However, the government’s Climate Change Committee stated in its first comprehensive report of the government's Net Zero Strategy that it would not be able to achieve net zero emissions. Though the progress report did acknowledge that the UK is one of the few countries with emission targets in line with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, there needs to be a bigger focus on delivering programmes to ensure the policies work. For the UK’s Net Zero Strategy to become a reality, more progress has to be made quickly.