From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Climate Emergency
Mains level : Climate change and associated threats
- UK Parliament has passed an extraordinary measure: a national declaration of an Environment and Climate Emergency.
- The UK is the first national government to declare such an emergency.
Why such move?
- The decision marks a renewed sense of urgency in tackling climate change, following a visit to Parliament by teenage activist Greta Thunberg.
- There are now some 49 million people living under national, city and local declarations of a climate emergency around the world.
- The UK is legally committed to a 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 (relative to their 1990 levels).
- It was recently recognised as one of just 18 developed economies that have driven down carbon dioxide emissions over the last decade.
The cost of inaction
- Research in Australia has investigated the cost to the global economy if the Paris Agreement is not met and the world hits 4˚C warmer.
- The values are eye-watering: an estimated $23 trillion a year over the long-term.
- This has been likened to the world experiencing four to six global financial crises on the scale of 2008 every year.
What is a climate emergency?
- There is no precise definition of what constitutes action to meet such an emergency, the move has been likened to putting the country on a “war footing”.
- This has put the climate and the environment at the very centre of all government policy, rather than being on the fringe of political decisions.
Counting down to 2030
- The year 2030 is an important target.
- In spite of what climate contrarians might voice very loudly, five of our planet’s warmest years on record have occurred since 2010, whilst 2018 experienced all manner of climate extremes that broke numerous global records.
- It’s sobering to realize that, because the oceans are a major sink of heat, the estimated 40-year delay in the release of this energy back into the atmosphere means the conditions of the last decade are in part a consequence of our pollution from the 1970s.
- At a time when politicians discuss the need to “live within our means” when it comes to national finances, this does not appear to translate to the environment when we’re considering future generations.
- Instead we seem to be caught in a debate surrounding the costs of action rather than inaction.
- The welcome announcement from the UK is a major step in the right direction and potentially a watershed moment for a more sustainable global future.