Emissions Targets Are Like Pension Funds

In November 2012 UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) published The Emissions Gap Report 2012.

There is an Executive Summary available on the page which makes it very clear that action on climate change needs to be scaled-up and
accelerated without delay if the world is to have a running chance of keeping a global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

There are a couple of things that are particularly interesting from the perspective of those of us investigating the impact of shale gas.

Firstly the report makes it very clear that one of the key factors in recent emission decreases was the economic downturn, thus casting still more doubt on the rather optimistic claims made by US energy companies that fracking is largely responsible for the temporary downturn in emissions in the USA.

Global emissions are now picking up again after their decline during the economic downturn between 2008 and 2009.

Secondly the report emphasises that the efficacy of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), on which UK energy policy on emissions will be largely predicated, would be better described as a bet than a certainty

The application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still fraught with controversy and large scale application and safe CO2 disposal has not yet been fully verified.

What this report makes abundantly clear is that planning for emissions reductions is like saving for a pension.

If you start early enough then there is an immediate contribution required but it is minimised. If you blithely spend, spend, spend and ignore the future then you are in for some serious pain when you do finally deal with the problem – or you face a very uncertain and potentially bleak future if you don’t.

In this context, the Government’s decision to delay a decision on setting a so-called ‘decarbonisation target’ – which would have seen a limit set on how much power stations could emit in 2030 – until after the election, in 2016, and to proceed blithely with the “dash for gas”, which even the Daily Telegraph described as a fantasy rather than a policy, start to look like a serious dereliction of duty.

The contact details of local MP’s are provided on this site if you would like to make this point to them.

Every little helps.

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