Climate activists say 1.5° to stay alive
Quakers in Britain are calling on the government to face up to the UK's full obligations to tackle climate change.
COP23 has just concluded. The conference in Bonn, Germany, aimed to prevent dangerous global warming. The 23rd annual conference of the parties (COP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set out to build the rules to make nationally determined commitments.
The UK Government attempted to reinforce its leadership role of previous negotiations and backed ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the recent publication of the government's long-awaited Clean Growth Strategy reveals that UK policies will not cut emissions fast enough.
At COP23, national representatives discussed plans and rules to achieve the Paris climate change agreement signed two years earlier. The climate deal requires international cooperation to keep global warming to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century, and to pursue efforts to limit this further to 1.5°C.
The UK risks falling well short of its obligations to cut emissions.- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain
The 2°C had previously been regarded as a safeguard against many of the worst impacts of climate change, leading the UK to enshrine the target in the Climate Change Act 2008. Yet the inclusion of the 1.5°C target reflected the growing recognition that 2°C still poses the threat of extensive sea level rises, crop failures and extended heat waves around the world.
The Clean Growth Strategy, has been hailed by the government as an ambitious plan to cut emissions between the years 2023-2032. Yet the strategy reveals that new policies will fail to cut emissions in line with the UK's legally-binding carbon allowances for this period, relying on “flexibilities" within UK climate law. It is a move that has been criticised by the government's own advisory Committee on Climate Change. With the government risking its target to cut carbon in line with even 2°C, Quakers fear the UK could undermine global commitment to the Paris climate deal.
“Whilst communities at home and overseas are already facing the impacts of climate change, the UK risks falling well short of its obligations to cut emissions." said Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain. “As people of faith, we call on the government to redress this injustice. The government is right to seek leadership in UN climate negotiations. But this must be founded on real action at home. This is about integrity."
Friends World Committee for Consultation represented Quakers at the conference, along with Quaker United Nations Office Geneva.