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Sceptisim over Boris Johnson’s promises environment and climate

The Conversation 13th Dec 2019, Rebecca Willis: Climate change had a higher profile in the UK election campaign than ever before, with parties competing hard over their offer to concerned voters.

But this was a debate that the Conservatives – who won a landslide majority – largely stood back from. Their manifesto was light on detail compared to the other parties, and Boris Johnson chose not to take part in the first ever UK televised leaders’ debate on climate.

Conservative candidates were conspicuous by their absence in local climate
hustings, too. Neither was climate mentioned in their legislative plan for
the first hundred days. The Conservative government did legislate for a net
zero carbon emissions target back in June, following the advice of the
Committee on Climate Change. And there was an explicit manifesto pledge to
deliver on this target, with no signs of backtracking.

In his speech to the party faithful on the morning of his election, Johnson declared his ambition to “make this country the cleanest, greenest on Earth, with the most far-reaching environmental programme”, adding: And you the people of this country voted to be carbon-neutral in this election – you voted to be carbon-neutral by 2050. And we’ll do it.

But targets don’t reduce carbon. Policies do. And despite its much-admired Climate Change Act, the UK’s policy record lately has not been good. The Committee on Climate Change have repeatedly warned that the UK is off track to meet future commitments, a verdict shared by the independent Climate Action Tracker project, which assesses each country’s performance against the Paris Agreement. It rated the UK as “insufficient”, with policies compatible
with a 3°C world – not the 1.5°C level that we desperately need.

If the new government is serious about its commitment, it will have to signal this soon, and with confidence. Steps that it could and should take straight
away include: instigating a swift review of governance for net-zero, giving
responsibility and resources to other government departments, and,
crucially, to local areas, to deliver on carbon strategy; prioritising
climate and environmental protection in negotiations for a trading
relationship with the European Union; moving quickly to consult on a
phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicles, as promised in its
manifesto; removing the de facto ban on onshore wind energy, which the
Committee on Climate Change advised needs to increase in capacity by 1GW a
year; confirming its opposition to fracking, and making its moratorium
permanent; pledging to formally consider the results of the national
citizens’ assembly on climate change, Climate Assembly UK, due to report
in 2020.

December 16, 2019 - Posted by | climate change, politics, UK

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