Aiming For Zero
Birthdays are a celebration - a time to gather, eat some cake and raise a cheer to mark another year of existence.
They’re also, at least when you hit your mid 20s and beyond, a time for introspection and forward thinking. What do I still want to achieve? What changes would I like to make in the next year? Who do I want to be?
10 years ago today the UK passed a landmark bill to tackle climate change, committing the country to carbon reduction targets for the first time. The 2008 Climate Change Act was the first of its kind and became legislation on 26th November 2008.
Contained within the bill was an ambition that by 2050 the UK should seek to reduce their carbon output by 80%. This was in line with the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 which was an international treaty agreed by 192 parties (states) to reduce their carbon emissions.
The 2008 Climate Change Act is still our countries primary climate change legislation, but we have to ask, on its 10th birthday, whether it’s still fit for purpose?
For one, the agreements made in the Kyoto Protocol have since been superseded by numerous international climate change treaties all the way up to the most recent Paris Agreements in 2016.
Rather than having legislation which aims to tackle percentages of state carbon output the Paris Agreements directly commit signatures to keeping global warming ‘well below 2 degrees C’ above pre-industrial levels.
Or, to put it more simply - signatures of the Paris Agreement promise to keep global temperatures from rising any further, with a specific focus on divestment from fossil fuels and move away from carbon intensive industry.
So, we know we’re failing if temperatures keep on rising, as they currently are.
In light of this does the Climate Change Act of 2008 still bind the UK to this loftier goal? Do we need to update the legislation? Or even start again with these new goals in mind?
It’s a topsy turvy political atmosphere in the UK right now with limited political capital for anything outside of Brexit.
The 10th Birthday of the Climate Change Act offers us the perfect moment to reevaluate and rework the countries primary climate change legislation. More so, it challenges us directly, as a country and as individuals, if we’re serious about keeping our promise to our planet and future generations.
This is why Christian Aid is joining with countless others today to ask for a radical rethink in our approach to climate change. Our legislation, although groundbreaking needs updating and we need to get more ambitious, faster.