Todd Holden, director of Low Carbon Policy and Programmes at the Business Growth Hub, gives his take on the current state of play as the world gears up for December’s UN climate summit in Paris.
It may well have gone under the radar for most people, but the first few weeks of June saw some really positive developments in the challenge to limit climate change to +2°C.
Following a US-China agreement to cut emissions in November, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has now confirmed that his country’s emissions will peak by around 2030 and that they will strive for it to happen sooner. His encouraging words have been backed up by large scale investment in clean energy; some $83 billion in 2014 according to the UN – 45% more than the whole of Europe combined.
This news has been complemented by a G7 agreement to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century. For the likes of the UK and US (who should be 80% of the way there by 2050) this might not seem much, but for others in the G7 – notably Japan and Canada – this is a significant step. It also sends a message to major institutional investors who will be mindful not to end up with stranded fossil fuel assets.
In the same week over 80 leading businesses asked the government to remain committed to its carbon reduction targets, specifically the ‘fourth carbon budget’ which kicks in during the 2020s. The decision on this coincides with the landmark UN climate summit in Paris this December and it’s vital that the UK takes a leading role. As shown by the recent Papal intervention, momentum is starting to build.
These announcements are all important steps. With a positive commitment from China and emerging EU leadership from Angela Merkel, Paris could yet prove to be what the world needs.