– Reports confirm UK carbon emissions have risen sharply under Labour
– Government advisor says UK should prepare for 4 degrees C temperature rise
The Green Party’s longstanding concerns about Government complacency and Labour’s misleading use of statistics on dangerous climate change have been further vindicated with the publication of reports showing that instead of the often repeated Ministerial claims about UK emissions falling since the 1990s, greenhouse gas emissions have actually been growing in line with the economy.
The Government has relied on a system for carbon accounts, that whilst internationally agreed, excludes emissions from aviation, shipping and imported goods. Yet these have been growing sharply due to the surge in cheap flights and as multinational companies move their manufacturing abroad, particularly to the Far East. Adding those catagories on to the UK’s emissions total actually makes the UK’s emissions 18 per cent higher. It also means that the Government has failed the climate policy of decoupling emissions from the economy.
The reports have come from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) a respected institute based at York University. One of them, which was for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), showed that rather than going down 5 per cent as the Government claimed, CO2 emissions have gone up 18 per cent between 1992 and 2004 when all emissions are counted.
According to the BBC, the Government received these results in February, but sat on them until July. It then sent out an “obscure” press release on 2 July.
In a seperate development, one of the Government’s chief scientific advisers has said that the UK should prepare for a 4 degrees C rise in temperatures.
In policy areas such as flood protection, agriculture and coastal erosion Professor Bob Watson said the country should plan for the effects of a 4C global average rise on pre-industrial levels, double the 2C limit agreed to by the EU.
“There is no doubt that we should aim to limit changes in the global mean surface temperature to 2C above pre-industrial,” Professor Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the DEFRA, told the Guardian this week.
“But given this is an ambitious target, and we don’t know in detail how to limit greenhouse gas emissions to realise a 2 degree target, we should be prepared to adapt to 4C.”
Cllr. Rupert Read, Norwich City Councillor and Lead Green candidate in Eastern Region for the June 2009 European Elections commented:
“Government failure to curb emissions, and the likely scale of the climate crisis facing us is very clear from these reports. Not only has the Government been selectively using statistics to make false claims on emissions reductions, as I have been arguing for the past year (see e.g. http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1616
) but one of their own senior advisors is now warning of temperature rises that poses huge risks to the UK – particularly here in Eastern Anglia, due to sea level rise.
“Yet still the Labour Government appears set to press on with expanding airports, major road bulding, more incinerators and imposing massive urbanisation on Eastern Region and many other parts of the UK, all of which will raise emissions even higher.
“Unlike the other parties, the Green Party is ready to take urgent and radical action on climate change, to move towards a Green economy where the top priorities are sustainability and fairness. Business as usual growth economics should be off the agenda. As the Stern report made so clear, action now will cost far less than delay.”
Cllr. James Abbott. Braintree District Councillor and national Green Party Spokesperson on Climate Change added
“As a major western economy, the UK needs to take a lead on tackling climate change. We know we cannot solve the crisis on our own, but we can set an example. The tragedy of the Labour Government is that Ministers have strutted around the globe making claims about cutting emissions which have been proved to be completely misleading, wasting years when opportunities should have been taken to move to a Green economy.
For the second summer in a row, it looks as if the ice cap melt in the Arctic will be at record levels. This is a stark warning that climate change is already upon us. There should be no more complacency from Gordon Brown’s Government. The first important decision his Ministers should announce this autumn is the scrapping of plans to expand Heathrow and Stansted.”