The UK government is coming under attack from environmental campaigners across the world for it’s seeming attempt to do everything within it’s power to ensure our nation’s CO2 levels increase in the near future, rather than reduce them.
Although back in 2007 parliament passed a bill which would make a 60% reduction in CO2 levels by 2050 legally binding the same government that drew up the legislation has taken a shorter term view of things. Considering most members of the government today will be either extremely senile or dead by 2050, new coal power stations are being set up as our current government will not have to suffer the ramifications of not reaching the legally set limits.
The government has comissioned a new generation of nuclear power plants. Although there are major safety concerns surrounding this source of energy, (especially concerning waste and other by-products), some climate change experts believe it may be our only means of survival. It’s a theory that’s taken a lot stick, but hey, it’s a theory.
Considering the UK is one of the world’s richest nations (although we’ll see how long that lasts) and has been spewing out climate destroying emissions far longer than many developing countries, it is our moral duty to make a concerted change first. Once we have made such a change, we may perhaps come close to having the right to pressure countries such as India and China into limiting their emissions.
Many of the environmental groups who have written to the UK government to protest the government’s decision to build new coal fired stations are from poorer nations such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Uganda and the Phillipines, rightly blame rich nations for emitting the vast majority of green house gases (yes, China will overtake the US soon, but the US, UK etc have been polluting for quite a long time now).
It is a sick irony that the poor nations that pollute least, will likely be the first and most affected by the effects of climate change. Africa is already seeing a great increase in the number of draughts and crop failures (set to worsen) and conversely, flash floods, while the rise in sea levels will wipe out vast swathes of densley populated areas such as Bagladesh.
Partly due to the fact that the countries to feel the pain first are the poorest, with the least economic, political and military sway, the governments of rich nations will act slower than they would have if their own countries faced imminent, rather than medium term threats.
Of course in areas such as Bangladesh, floods and other climate crisis have taken place for years, but it is a fact that they have increased in intensity and frequency in recent decades as CO2 emissions have risen and the climate begins to alter.
For me, it is a shame that it takes NGO and other environmental advocacy groups from abroad to pressure the UK government to act in a seriosuly concerted manner to limit CO2 emissions, rather than the British people. This is yet another area in which our government is overtly acting in opposition to our medium to long term interests. We shouldn’t let them get away with it.