United Kingdom Subsidies

United Kingdom–6 billion GBP every year

Fossil fuel subsidies are a contentious issue for the UK. Over the past 5 years, The UK has become the only G7 nation to increase its’ support for the production of fossil fuels—despite earlier pledges to phase them out entirely— and it is now the fifth largest global subsidizer with an estimated £6 billion given in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. Most of this is in the form of tax breaks to help boost declining North Sea oil production (which has included figures such as £551 million being given to the Total, £131 million to Apache and £267 million to Statoil). In addition, in 2016 the UK introduced a new North Sea tax break which is estimated to be worth an additional £1.7 billion over the next five years.

This runs contrary to declarations made by the government itself. For example, then-Prime Minister David Cameron told a UN climate-change conference in September 2014 that ‘we need to give business the certainty it needs to invest in low carbon. That means fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil-fuel subsidies’. Government departments have gone further—using a different, stricter definition of ‘subsidy’ to involve only ‘government action that lowers the pre-tax price to consumers to below international-market levels’ to argue that the UK does not actually provide any fossil fuel subsidies at all. This is because reducing the usual rate of tax paid in a certain sector (which is the form of subsidy the UK government favors, and which is at a rate that is still higher than the ‘normal’ rate other sectors pay) would not fit within this definition.

The UK government’s use of fossil fuel subsidies does not look to be abating any time soon, and recent cuts to offshore wind and solar subsidies appears only to reinforce this.

United Kingdom

In Wave 1 of a tracking study in 2012, 15% registered natural process-only responses, whilst 38% registered human activity-only responses. In Wave 21, 5 years later, 10% registered natural process-only responses, whilst 42% registered human-activity only responses.

In March 2012, the UK Governments’ Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), launched the ‘Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker’ survey. A new ‘wave’ of this survey is completed four times every year. In ‘Wave 22’ – June to July 2017 – face-to-face home interviews were conducted in 2097 households across the UK. This sample was chosen using the Kantar TNS Omnibusa, which utilizes the ‘random location quota sampling method’.

Regarding attitudes to climate change, the first question asked in each survey ‘wave’ is: ‘How concerned, if at all, are you about current climate change?’. The possible answers are ‘Very’, ‘Fairly’, Not Very’ and ‘Not at All’ Concerned, as well as ‘Don’t Know’. In Wave 2, 65% registered ‘concerned’ responses, whilst 35% registered ‘unconcerned’ responses. In Wave 21, 71% registered ‘concerned’ responses, whilst 27% registered ‘unconcerned’ responses. This represents a flip, over 5 years, of +6% of the public being concerned, and -8% of the public being unconcerned.

The second question asked on climate change is: ‘Thinking about the causes of climate change, which, if any, of the following best describes your opinion?’ The possible answers include climate change being, ‘Entirely’ or ‘Mainly’ caused by natural processes, ‘Entirely’ or ‘Mainly’ caused by human activity, ‘Partly Caused by Both’, ‘I don’t think there is such a thing as climate change’, or ‘Don’t Know’. In Wave 1, 15% registered natural process-only responses, whilst 38% registered human activity-only responses. In Wave 21, 10% registered natural process-only responses, whilst 42% registered human-activity only responses. This shows a flip of -5% of the public considering that climate change is only the result of a natural process, and +4% of the public thinking that it is only the result of human activity. However, from Wave 1 to Wave 21 there was only a +1% change in responses that state climate change is partly the result of both (42% to 43%).

Learn More

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-and-climate-change-public-attitudes-tracker-wave-22

United Kingdom Strategies

United Kingdom: (1) If the UK pulls out of the EU, it should establish the goal of a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050; (2) Reverse cuts in subsidies to the solar industry; (3) Halt all plans to begin fracking, as well as decease the increasing reliance on gas as a substitute for coal; (4) Continue and increase the amount of support for electric cars.

Regarding the INDC’s that form part of the Paris Agreement, the UK is in a quite unique position of having an uncertain future with regards to what its’ commitments will consist of. This is due to, currently, all member states of the European Union being subsumed within a single ‘EU INDC’ of reducing emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The work that is required to achieve this is being distributed between states along lines of historical responsibility, capability and existing levels of development. However, in May 2019 the UK will be leaving the EU. It is currently undecided whether the UK will continue to be included within the EU’s INDC, or whether it will be removed and have to agree to a new INDC (which will in turn increase the burden that the remaining EU member states will have to shoulder, as under the current INDC the UK had the most ambitious targets). If the latter, as this INDC would technically be the UK’s second INDC, it may be subject to the Paris Agreements’ ‘ratcheting principle’ – where each subsequent INDC must be more ambitious than the last.

Due to so many uncertainties surrounding the UK’s future INDC, it would be difficult to determine whether the UK should strengthen its’ pledge. It must be noted, however, that the UK – under the 2007 UK Climate Change Act – is legally required to obtain an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, which is above the current targets in the Paris Agreement. Even so, when the Climate Change Act was being developed there was a big pushback from interest groups that the target should be raised to 90% in order to ensure an avoidance of all dangerous climate change. Thus, it would be safe to conclude that the UK’s future INDC should be of a level of ambition that at least ensures a 90% emission reduction by 2050.

Ways in which the UK could further reduce its’ emissions could include action through the following routes: reversing the cuts to the subsidies for the UK’s fledgling solar industry. These cuts, implemented overnight, resulted in dozens of companies going bust and rates of solar panel installation falling drastically. A second route would be to halt all plans to begin fracking, as well as decease the increasing reliance on gas as a substitute for coal – instead focus on building up the industries for truly renewable energy sources. A third would be continue and increase the amount of support for electric cars – increasing the amount of charging points, subsidies and incentives for members of the public to switch.

United Kingdom Renewable Energy

United Kingdom—No 100% Commitment by 2050
Benchmark: Commitment to reduce overall emissions by 80% by 2050

The UK has not made a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.

However, in accordance with the European Union’s submitted INDC as part of the Paris Agreement—in which the UK’s target is included—EU states are required to collectively reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Also, due to the 2008 Climate Change Act, the UK is legally bound to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

Though these targets do not necessitate certain levels of uptake in renewable energy, high uptake levels would appear required in order to ensure that the targets are met. Mandated by the UK’s 3rd, 4th and 5th carbon budgets is a 37% emission reduction by 2020, 51% by 2025 and 57% by 2030 respectively. A key part of the carbon budgets’ plan has been a restructuring of the UK’s energy sector. This has taken the form of rapidly reducing the use of coal (with the aim for a complete phase out by 2050), to be replaced by gas and renewable sources. This has been extremely successful and has constituted the bulk of the UK’s 4.5% yearly emission reductions since 2012—to the extent that the government has recognized that potential further gains in the energy sector will eventually level out, so greater progress must be made elsewhere to make up for it. The carbon budgets detail how these goals will be achieved: auctioning large-scale renewable generation projects, providing a route to market for the cheapest low-carbon generation technologies, and supporting technological innovations. All of these are supported by locally-sourced materials and jobs but with energy security remaining the top priority (which has often been to the detriment of progress on renewables—as the government has persistently pursued fracking, and removed subsidies for renewable industries that are not yet well established).

Though perhaps not classified as renewable, the largest non-fossil fuel electricity generation project
planned in the UK is the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. When finished, it is projected to provide 7% of the UK’s total energy needs—from a low carbon source. However, there have been considerable concerns regarding the cost compared to the pay off —that it is far too expensive, and that the design is not feasible. Furthermore, if the carbon budget’s recommendations for energy efficiency measures were fully implemented it would result in a 7% decrease in energy demand anyway.

Learn More

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-CCC-Progress-Report-Executive-Summary.pdf

United Kingdom Success Project

United Kingdom—The Policy of Reducing Dependence on Coal-Fired Power Plants

Though the complete phase out of coal-fired power plants was only officially announced in January 2016—with an aim for completion by 2025—there has been a concerted effort for multiple decades to reduce the UK’s dependence on coal when meeting its’ energy needs. This was motivated by the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, the world’s first legally binding national emission reduction document, which mandates 5-year plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 that include deep cuts to emissions from the energy sector.

The rapid reduction in coal-fired power plants is credited with being the biggest driver behind the UK’s fall in total emissions between 1990 and 2015. Coal usage from 2013 to 2015 dropped 41%, with the drop from 2014 to 2015 totaling 21%. In 2016 alone, 8 gigawatts of coal capacity (half of the UK’s remaining coal capacity) was closed. In the EU, in 2014 to 2015, the UK achieved the largest emission reductions (19,422 Kt CO2; compared to the next biggest reduction of 3,638 by Greece). This was largely attributed to the switch from oil and coal to gas in electricity production and accounted for 7.5% of all EU reductions that year. Regarding longer-term trends, emissions from the UK’s energy sector have fallen from 277.9 MTCO2e in 1990, to 144.1 in 2015—a 48% reduction. The Government has stated that ‘this decrease has resulted mainly from changes in the mix of fuels used for electricity generation, primarily from a decline in the use of coal at power stations’.

This policy of reducing dependence on coal-fired power plants and replacing them with gas and renewable energy sources is a policy that is easily replicable in a wide variety of contexts. This is due to the current availability of access to renewable technologies through technology transfers that are mandated by international climate change agreement. Also in play is the rapidly decreasing price of renewable energy combined with increased consumer interest and willingness to use them. This policy is also easily scalable with the speed at which dependence on coal is decreased and which alternatives are used to replace coal, able to be dictated by the relevant authority. Reforming emission-intensive energy sectors and replacing the burning of fossil fuels with renewable alternatives, is a key for all countries to achieve their international emission reduction commitments in the Paris Agreement. The necessity of implementing these policies is self-evident.

The UK’s INDC pledge was within the EU’s pledge. Post-Brexit, the UK will probably have to create a new INDC and the EU’s pledge will have to be redistributed among the other member states. This will be to the detriment of the EU, as the UK’s emissions reduction pledge was one of the highest. It is not yet known what the UK’s new INDC will be.

Learn More

http://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-emissions-fall-again-after-record-drop-in-coal-use-in-2015
https://www.edie.net/news/6/UK-leads-the-way-for-emissions-reduction–despite-overall-increase-in-the-EU-/
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604350/2015_Final_Emissions_statistics.pdf

United Kingdom Checkup

United Kingdom—Standing Still

The Carbon Brief’s report states that in order for the UK to meet its Paris Agreement goal, plans must be drawn up immediately for greenhouse gas removal technologies while simultaneously more work needs to be done to reduce its existing emission levels.

In line with the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, 5-yearly ‘carbon budgets’ are drawn up to specify how the UK will reach both it’s target in the Paris Agreement, and the UK’s self-imposed target to cut emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. However, the ambition that these carbon budgets state have been found to be not ambitious enough to reach the targets specified in the Paris Agreement—a 90% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 with net zero emissions between 2050 and 2100. Though it must be noted that the Carbon Brief does state that the UK’s goals are very ambitious compared to other countries, and to what is feasible within the limited time frame.

However, there is still the question as to whether the UK is achieving the goals mandated by its own carbon budgets. The release of the government’s emission reduction plan has been delayed by a year, and projected UK emissions are far above what the carbon budgets require. The legal NGO ClientEarth even issued a report stating that the previously released government Carbon Plan in 2011 was in breach of its own act, and that it was not sufficient to meet the targets legally required.

When comparing the UK’s actual emission levels, the carbon budgets and the Paris Agreement goals, it is clear that ‘business as usual’ for the UK will not even nearly ensure the required reductions. To meet them requires immediate and large investment in emission removal technologies, and a ratcheting of ambition for future carbon plans. This must include a reversal of the decision to begin fracking, a reinstating of the subsidies for solar power, and unequivocal support for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

Learn More

Carbon Brief: ‘UK needs negative emissions to comply with Paris Climate deal’ October 2016. https://www.carbonbrief.org/ccc-uk-needs-negative-emissions-to-comply-with-paris-climate-deal

United Kingdom Emission Reduction Policy

Government Regulation Closing All Coal-fired Plants by 2025

In January 2016, then-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd announced that all UK coal-fired power plants would be closed by 2025, with their use restricted by 2023 at the latest. Rudd promised to prioritize energy security, competition within the energy market and a reduced financial burden on bill-payers, as well as ensuring that the replacement energy comes from sources that are affordable, clean and low-carbon. Rudd stated that “it cannot be satisfactory for…the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations. We need to build a new energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century. Our determination to cut carbon emissions as cost effectively as possible is crystal clear and this step will make us one of the first developed countries to commit to taking coal off our system.”

The initial response to this proposal was positive. Nick Mabey, chief executive of think tank E3G, said that ’it is significant that the country that led the industrial revolution is the first major economy to set a date for the phase out of unabated coal’. A total removal of coal from the UK’s energy landscape would contribute greatly towards achieving both the UK’s commitments in the Paris Agreement, and the emission reduction targets obligated by the UK Climate Change Act 2008.

However, this positivity was mitigated by several factors. First, Rudd emphasized that gas would be prioritized as the replacement energy source: a move Friends of the Earth described as “like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whiskey a day to two bottles of port”. Although gas is less emission-intensive compared to coal, it is still a finite, fossil fuel-based resource that releases a considerable amount of emissions—an amount that is incompatible with achieving the UK’s long-term emission reduction targets. Second, the speech—and existing government policy— does not contain support for renewables as a method of ‘filling the gap’ that removing coal will open up. Indeed, much governmental policy has worked against renewables: the feed-in tariff for small scale solar installations was cut by 87%, financial aid was removed for new onshore wind farms and energy efficiency projects, and the Green Investment Bank (that funds projects contributing to the decarbonization of the UK’s economy) is in the process of being sold off. Paul Ekins, Co-Director of the UK Energy Research Centre, questioned, “who will invest in the new gas-fired power stations the government wants to replace coal, after its U-turns on renewables have left so many investors who believed past government policy out of pocket?”

Though Rudd’s proposal was headline-grabbing, evidence suggests that it is not as revolutionary as it first appeared. Coal usage in the UK has been declining for decades—and rapidly so in the past 5 years. Usage dropped 41% in 3 years from 2013 to 2015, with a huge drop of 22% between 2014 and 2015—which was the largest-ever annual reduction in coal usage not including from the miner’s strikes. As a share of the UK’s energy landscape, coal decreased from 29.7% in 2014 to 22.6% in 2015—whilst gas and nuclear remained roughly the same, but renewables gained 6%: eating up most of the capacity coal had dealt with. The UK’s coal consumption is now at its lowest levels since the start of the industrial revolution, and this is due to several factors. The central of these is the recent pre-planned closures of coal power stations that have reached the end of their workable lifespan. In 2016 alone 8 gigawatts of coal capacity (half of the UK’s remaining capacity) was closed. Second, Drax, the UK’s largest coal plant, switched to burning wood pellets instead. Third, the profitability of coal plants has plummeted due to falling wholesale electricity prices, the rising UK carbon floor price, and the cheapening of renewable alternatives. Overall, this points to the conclusion that coal was—due to ageing infrastructure and market forces—already being phased out at a rapid rate without the need for Rudd’s statement of intent. And though such a statement is always welcome for environmentalists, the clauses that Rudd included in her proposal mitigate the potential benefits that the policy could have had, and will ensure that while emissions are greatly reduced in the short-term, the UK’s long-term emission reduction targets will be wholly missed.

Learn More

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/31/rapid-decline-of-coal-use-leads-to-drop-in-uk-emissions
http://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-emissions-fall-again-after-record-drop-in-coal-use-in-2015
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-direction-for-uk-energy-policy
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-plans-to-close-coal-power-stations-by-2025
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/27/slashing-household-solar-subsides-kill-off-industry-government-feed-in-tariff

United Kingdom Extreme Weather Event

2015-2016 UK Floods

December 2015 in the UK was the second wettest December there since records began. A complete lack of frost, and a temperature that was 4.1 degrees above average, resulted in huge amounts of rainfall being dropped within a 24-hour window. Large swathes of the north of England and Scotland received on average 5.9 inches of rainfall – with some areas of Cumbria even recording 13.4 inches. Gusts of up to 115 mph were frequent, and two more storms quickly followed: both depositing even heavier rainfall on already-saturated landscapes. Multiple rivers broke their banks, a bridge collapsed and gas pipes were ruptured.  Over 16,000 homes and businesses were flooded, many more suffered prolonged power-cuts, and dozens of rescue missions had to be undertaken by boat to save stranded residents.

It is clear that these storms, and the subsequent flooding, were weather events far outside the normal reaches of the British climate, and it is highly probable that it was influenced by climate change. Climate change has caused a rise in global temperatures that has resulted in the air within the Pacific and Atlantic jet streams being warmer. This in turn has enabled the air streams to hold more water vapor and thus increase the likelihood of extreme rainfall and flooding when they hit land. Dame Silgo, chief scientist at the Met Office, stated that just ‘from a basic physical understanding of weather systems, it is entirely plausible that climate change has exacerbated what has been a period of very wet and stormy weather.’

The sitting Conservative government received a lot of criticism for not heeding previous flood warnings and for cutting flood defense spending when it was most needed. In 2014, the Met Office advised the government that Britain was in line for more heavy rainfall events due to climate change, and that funding cuts would leave 240,000 households at greater risk of flood damage within 20 years. Nevertheless, with deficit reduction being prioritized over addressing climate change-related risks, the promised £400m per year for flood defense spending was cut sharply each year: £360m in 2010-11, to less than £270m in 2012-13. Funding was, on average, 37% lower than the funds provided by the previous government.

Following the storms, a raft of policies was announced to mitigate the immediate impacts, and to ensure long-term flood protection. Government figures state that over £200 million has been spent in extra investment for storm recovery. Local authorities were provided with £500 for each household affected, and £2,500 for each business. Households were provided with grants of up to £5,000 to install flood barriers, replace doors and windows with water-resistant alternatives and to move electricity sockets to safer levels. Flood affected communities would be exempt from Council Tax and business rate bills while they were out of their properties, and farmers could get grants of up to £20,000 to help restore damaged agricultural land. £40 million was pledged to help repair flood-damaged roads and bridges, and an additional £10 million was given to the Environmental Agency to repair and improve flood defenses. The government agreed to match every donation made by the public to support flood efforts up to £2 million, as well as pledging to invest a total of £2.3 billion in flood defenses over the next 6 years.

Opposition parties criticized this reaction as a ‘sticking-plaster response’, noting that the proposals mainly included funding that was already destined for such projects, and that the total earmarked was not enough to fully prepare for, and adapt to, future climate-change related extreme weather events.

Learn More

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/uk-weather-why-the-recent-devastating-floods-will-become-the-new-normal-a6793291.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/30/experts-criticise-george-osborne-over-flood-protection-funding

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-west-england-floods-2015-government-response

United Kingdom Media Organizations

Broadcast Media

BBC Radio, funded by British taxpayers, is owned by and is a division of the BBC, the British Broadcasting Company. It provides many radio programs that cover a variety of topics including music, sports, current affairs and more. Within it’s programming, across the entirety of its channels, climate change and environmental issues are featured prominently – often being the sole focus on shows or episodes – especially on BBC Radio 4. BBC Radio is supportive, though not uncritically so, of environmental and climate change-related campaigning. Shows often educate the public on key concepts or happenings within the sector, or highlight areas that are otherwise under-reported.

Content Samples:

Costing the Earth, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qdvlw
Costing the Earth is a BBC Radio 4 program on environmental issues and climate change. It focuses on man’s effect on the environment and how the environment reacts: questioning accepted truths, challenging those in charge, and reporting on progress towards improving the world. Episodes cover a wide variety of topics: from local issues to international climate change. Topics include Wildlife-Friendly Motorways, to the Forest of the Orangutan, and Spiritual Greens.

One Planet, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsn5/episodes/player
Since 1997, One Planet has been a BBC World Service program that covers environmental news and international development, looking at the way we live our lives on this planet and the consequence. The majority of episodes focus on different aspects of climate change: from ocean acidification to the impact of the changing climate in Northern Russia.

Contact: Office Mailing Address: BBC Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA
General Contact: @bbcradio4 or http://www.facebook.com/BBCRadio4

Owner: Editors: Each show on BBC Radio has a separate editor. ‘Costing the Earth’ is hosted by Tom Heap and produced by Martin Poyntz-Roberts; ‘One Planet’ is hosted by BBC’s Science Editor David Shukman.

Print Media

The Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine, which is the longest running environmental magazine having began in 1966, offers positive perspectives regarding the environment through a variety of lenses – from ecology and social justice, to spirituality and philosophy. The magazine emphasizes illustrations, art pieces and poetry as well as ideas on ethical living and book reviews, alongside more traditional ‘environmental reporting’. The Magazine is supportive, but not unqualifiedly so, of the Paris Agreement. Articles written on the subject often highlight the Agreement’s weaknesses and downsides, with the intent to generate further – and better – action.

Content Samples:

2050: We Can Make it. Issue 295 March/April 2016 ‘Walking Back to Happiness’. By Mukti Mitchell
http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4593-2050-we-can-make-it.html
This article discusses how the current emission reduction targets in the Paris Agreement are not enough to avert dangerous climate change, and that there are other ways of contributing towards climate change mitigation. Though the Paris Agreement was a positive step forwards – sending clear signals to business and political leaders – attention must be paid to the impact of modern industrial agriculture and diets, the de-carbonization and insulation of homes and offices, and energy efficiency in transport and industry.

Social Justice Must Accompany Action on Climate Change. Issue 295 March/April 2016 ‘Walking Back to Happiness. Adam Weymouth. adamweymouth@gmail.com
http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4589-social-justice-must-accompany-action-on-climate-change.html
Discussed in this article is how the Paris Agreement, though ambitious and a ‘success’, must give a voice to the diversity of groups within the climate justice movement. These are groups that have not previously been aligned with the environmental movement, but have become so as environmentalism is an increasingly intersectional issue. Such groups include Veterans testifying on the environmental damage of war, BME groups emphasizing environmental justice, refugees and historical developmental trends, and Indigenous group’s highlighting the negative impact of fossil fuel extraction on their land and how the sacred has become commodified. Paris must be the ‘stepping stone for the building of momentum’, but it is important that no minority or at-risk group is silenced along the way.

Contact: Office Mailing Address: Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon, EX39 6EE, General Email: info@resurgence.org, Tel: 01237 441 293
Owner & Publisher: The Resurgence Trust, a registered educational charity based in Devon, UK.
Editor: Satish Kumar, has been the magazine’s editor since 1973

Online Media

The Guardian is both an online news website, and a widely distributed newspaper, that has been in print since 1821. The Guardian has a dedicated ‘Environment’ section on its website, and a sub-section devoted to Climate Change within that. Multiple articles are released daily on climate change, covering opinion pieces, developments in science, policy and politics, and international news. The Guardian believes climate change exists, is supportive and optimistic about the Paris Agreement, and demands strong action in a variety of areas related to climate change mitigation – from renewable investment and R&D, to climate justice and emission reductions.
Content Samples:

Paris climate change agreement: the world’s greatest diplomatic success. 14th December 2015. By Fiona Harvey.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/13/paris-climate-deal-cop-diplomacy-developing-united-nations
This article discusses the realities of the negotiations at the Paris Conference. The talk’s atmosphere was tense, but last minute compromises were resolved in the end and an agreement was reached. The agreement was hailed as ‘historic, durable and ambitious’, and required all countries to limit their emissions below two degrees, with regular reviews and financing provided for developing countries. However, the agreement isn’t perfect: more stringent emission reductions are required to prevent dangerous climate change.

The Paris agreement really does change everything. 7 October 2016. By Barry Gardiner.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/07/paris-agreement-climate-change-carbon-emissions
The article states that the ratification of the Paris Agreement does change things for the better for the environmental movement. This is due to it setting the world on an irreversible trajectory in which all investment, regulation and industrial strategy must now align with the vision of the new ‘green economy’. This has already started to be actualized: in 2016 more than 500 institutions with assets totaling 3.4 trillion dollars, committed to divestment form fossil fuels. Government policies and market forces are uniting in pushing for a low-carbon revolution, and financial decision makers are recognizing the inescapability of climate change-related risks to investments. It is thus important to have an orderly, managed transition that minimizes risks while seizing new job and investment opportunities that arise.

Contact: Office Mailing Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way London N1 9GU, United Kingdom.General Point of Contact: @guardianeco, Tel: 020 3353 2000

United Kingdom Subnational Best Practices

Regions/Provinces/States

Scotland—In the UK, Scotland has taken strong leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and for the first time last year met and exceeded its emissions targets. According to the Evening Express, the figures released by the Scottish Government revealed that the country managed a reduction of 39.5% from 1990 to 2014 whereas England’s and the UK’s reductions were 34% and 33% respectively. In terms of carbon emissions reductions in Europe, Scotland came second only to Sweden that had a decline of 54.5% over the same period.

Cities

Aberdeen—According to the Aberdeen Council, the city has reduced its carbon emissions and is committed to continue doing so in different ways. Earlier this year, Aberdeen became the first city in Western Europe to have hydrogen-powered cars for public use on a pay-as-you-go basis. This is part of the “City Council’s next step in expanding hydrogen infrastructure in the city”. This comes a year after the city got a fleet of hydrogen buses that replaced 10 diesel fuelled buses as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The fleet travelled about 250,000 miles in the past year without releasing any harmful emissions during its 1,600 refuels. The buses have also proven to be four times more efficient than diesel engines of the same kind. The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is part of the H2 Aberdeen initiative which is enabling development and deployment of additional hydrogen infrastructure and vehicles.

Bristol—Bristol was the first city in the UK to be granted a European Green Capital in 2015. It was also the second Greenest City in the World the same year. With more cyclists than any other city in the UK and the lowest carbon emissions of any major UK city, it has continued to put more efforts into reducing its carbon emissions. Like Aberdeen, Bristol has also introduced a new fleet of 20 low carbon buses which are fitted with the latest Euro VI engines. The engines produce 95% less oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. They also have start-stop technology which cuts out the engine when a bus is stationary.
Glasgow was coined one of the global top 25 cities for environmental sustainability. Glasgow city council has partnered with a number of businesses on different sustainable projects that provide jobs and create green capital growth. Some past initiatives include funding for 10,000 LED street light replacements and funding for renewable projects. One such project diverts over 90% residual waste from landfill into an energy-waste-facility. Both projects have been in partnership with businesses.

Associations

Scottish Cities Alliance—Scottish Cities Alliance is a collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities. Its goal is to achieve a stronger economic future for Scotland through a joint effort. The Alliance’s other goal is to drive the agenda for a low carbon future forward in order to help reduce the impact of climate change as well as ensure the future economic prosperity of Scotland.

Contact
Website: http://www.scottishcities.org.uk/about-us

Climate UK—Climate UK is a not for profit organization that describes itself as the national face of local climate action. It is made up of a network of organizations as well as individuals supporting local action in the devolved UK countries.  It works to facilitate a bottom up nationwide response to climate change by uniting knowledge and technical expertise from every part of the UK to tackle the challenges and opportunities faced.

Contact
Website: http://climateuk.net/content/about-us

Core Cities—Core Cities describe themselves as a unique and united local authority voice that promotes the role of its cities in driving economic growth and the case for city devolution. Represented in this group are the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. Glasgow and Cardiff are also part of this group. They are not necessarily focused on climate change, but that is one of the functions.

Contact
Website: https://www.corecities.com/  

Covenant of Mayors—Formed in 2008 by the European Union, the Covenant of Mayors is a European movement that involves both local and regional authorities who voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources in their respective regions. Signatories to this movement abide by the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their states by at least 20% by 2020. Thirty of the UK’s cities including Aberdeen and Bristol are members of this movement.

Contact
Website:  http://www.covenantofmayors.eu/about/covenant-of-mayors_en.html
http://tools.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Organisations/International/Covenant-of-Mayors

The Under2 MOU—The Under2 MOU is a pledge by sub-national governments to reduce their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. The core to this pledge is the commitment by all the parties to reduce their emissions by 80-95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The 165 jurisdictions that represent 33 countries and six continents that have signed the MOU are collectively referred to as the Under2 Coalition. The UK members of the Coalition include Scotland, Wales, Greater Manchester City and Bristol City.

Contact
Website: http://under2mou.org/the-mou/

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For more on how Scotland met its emissions target see: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/14/scotland-beats-climate-emissions-reductions-target-six-years-early

Could be useful. http://www.ukgbc.org/resources/blog/global-cities-set-pace

For more on Scotland’s carbon emission reductions see: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/pipe/news/scotland/scotland-second-to-sweden-in-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-in-western-europe/

Convent of Mayors- http://www.covenantofmayors.eu/about/covenant-of-mayors_en.html

See UK’s greenest here: http://www.mcleanross.com/blog/what-are-the-greenest-cities-in-the-uk–blog-61919161858

For more on Aberdeen’s investment into cycling infrastructure: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/fp/news/local/council-cycling-spend-to-pass-6m-by-tax-year-end/

How businesses play a role in low carbon cities: http://www.edie.net/news/6/Businesses-will-play-a-crucial-role-in-the-transition-to-low-carbon-cities/

For more on Aberdeen’s hydrogen buses: http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/CouncilNews/ci_cns/pr_h2busanniversary_110316.asp