Why the UK should be leading on climate change

There have been some worrying comments recently in the media regarding the UK’s position as a leader in the efforts to prevent climate change. The most prominent of these has come from the Chancellor George Osborne who has stated that the UK should not be at the forefront of these efforts.

These comments are completely misguided on a number of fronts. Firstly, the comments come shortly after the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest Fifth Assessment Report which was clearer than ever that climate change is happening and that human interventions is the major contribution to the changing climate.

Secondly, our efforts to reduce climate change are also good for our economy. Recently published figures from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills showed that whilst the majority of the economy remained flat the green sector grew by nearly 5%. The report published in July 2013 showed that UK sales from the Low Carbon Environmental Goods and Services (LCEGS) sector was £128.1bn in 2011/12. This compares with Sales in 2010/11 of £122.2bn and shows an annual increase of £5.9bn, which is approximately 4.8%. Furthermore the report shows that the LCEGS sector employs over 900,000 people.

And if these aren’t reasons enough to be at the forefront of preventing climate change there is also the moral imperative. Climate change will impact greatest on some of the poorest communities across the world and we have an obligation to ensure that the impacts of climate change are reduced as far as possible. Additionally our historical emissions have contributed to climate change to a greater extent than most nations. The data for 1850 to 2002 shows that the UK has been one of the highest historical emitters of greenhouse gases and as such we should be leading in reducing these emissions.

Addressing climate change is good for our economy and our standing as a world leader. Continuing in this role can only provide further benefits to us and others across the world.

As always we would welcome your thoughts on this post and recent comments regarding UK’s role as a leader on climate change.