Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the UK will move forward with its domestic ratification of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and will join a group of top countries to bring the Paris deal into the full force of law.
This announcement has been welcomed by Christian Aid.
Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor, said:
A leading group of Governments including the UK is rapidly bringing the Paris Agreement into life.
“There has been unprecedented political momentum across the globe towards getting the Paris Agreement ratified and it will likely now come into force by the end of the year.
“Led by both vulnerable developing countries, as well as the USA and China, the UK was in danger of falling behind. But this commitment shows the Prime Minister is keen to ensure the UK builds on its good work in Paris to secure the agreement and is determined to stay in the leading pack.
“The Prime Minister’s words send the right signals to international allies, businesses and industry that the UK is committed to tackling climate change and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy.
“Theresa May can now back up this international effort by ensuring all her Government departments put in place more ambitious low carbon policies to make the Paris deal a reality. Climate change is an urgent and pressing issue for the UK, so the Prime Minister should chair a cross-Government committee to ensure faster progress on cutting emissions.
“It’s now time that other European leaders followed suit and quickly announced their own ratification plans so that the EU can formally ratify the agreement as soon as possible.”
The Prime Minister’s announcement was made during a speech to the United Nations debate on the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Conservative Parliamentarians from the Conservative Environment Network welcomed the announcement. A statement from Caroline Ansell, MP, Richard Benyon MP, James Heappey MP, Jeremy Lefroy MP, Rebecca Pow MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, and Lord Barker of Battle, said: “This is terrific news. The UK, and Conservative ministers, played a strong part in securing the Paris Agreement. The world is moving to a more productive, efficient, low carbon economy. With China, the US and over 50 other countries ratifying, it is clear the Agreement has widespread support.
“The UK government led the way to a sustainable economy through the Climate Change Act and a number of other mechanisms. It had committed to ratifying as soon as possible, and we are very pleased to see this happening. We are confident it lays the foundation for a better future, and we look forward to the economic dynamism it will unleash.”
Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a forum representing 128 European investors managing over €13 trn in assets, said: “IIGCC warmly welcomes Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that the UK is firmly behind the Paris Agreement and intends to ratify it within a matter of weeks. The low carbon transition presents a huge opportunity for investors in renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure and other areas.
“The Paris Agreement gives an unequivocal signal to investors, so we now look forward to swift action by ministers to implement the policy measures and regulatory frameworks required to ensure climate action and risk disclosure are placed front and centre of the UK’s efforts to secure strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.”
Neil Thorns, advocacy director at CAFOD and chair of the Climate Coalition, whose members range from the Women’s Institute to the National Trust and which represents 15 million supporters, said: “We’re delighted that the voices of so many British people who have been calling for action on climate change have been heard today. We congratulate the the Prime Minister on beginning the ratification process, demonstrating the urgent need to protect all the things we love that could be lost to climate change, and we look forward to working with her government to develop a low-carbon plan for the British economy.”
Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business: “The UK has long been a leader in climate policy. The commitment from the PM to ratify the Paris Agreement builds on the recent approval of the 5th carbon budget to maintain that leadership and provides a strong signal to business that will drive increased investments in the UK. It also sends a signal to other members of the EU that should lead to ratification from them, which will be enough to trigger entry into force this year.”
Nick Mabey, CEO, E3G: “In joining the US and China in ratifying the Paris Agreement Britain is upholding its long history of global climate leadership and showing it remains a major international player. Ratification will help protect the British people from climate change and open opportunities in the global clean economy for British businesses.”
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.