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UK Parliament declares climate change emergency

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

UK Parliament declares climate change emergency

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: what does this mean, rationale behind, significance and implications.

 

Context: A national climate emergency has been declared by the UK Parliament. The UK is the first national government to declare such an emergency.

This proposal, which demonstrates the will of the Commons on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act, was approved without a vote.

 

What is a climate emergency?

There is no single definition of what that means but many local areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030. It’s a much more ambitious target than the UK government’s, which is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.

 

Why declare an emergency?

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe. It’s not just about reducing carbon emissions on a local scale, but also raising awareness about climate change and trying to convince MPs so that changes can be made.

The national government needs to declare an emergency and put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions. It’s the first step to radical action.

 

Way ahead:

With the planet to experience further warming from the heat held by the oceans, there is increasing international focus on meeting the United Nation’s Paris Agreement which was signed by 197 countries in 2016. This ground-breaking agreement has the ambitious global aim of preventing global temperatures from reaching 2˚C above pre-industrial levels (the late nineteenth century) by 2100, and ideally should be no more than 1.5˚C.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) has suggested that meeting this target means annual global carbon emissions must effectively halve between now and 2030, and then fall to zero by 2050. This is a target the UK opposition party Labour are now calling for.

 

Sources: The Hindu.