Can we trust David Cameron on Paris?

By: 
Gordon Murray
on : 
17th Dec 2015
Bulletin item expiry date: 
16th Jan 2016

Despite a year of butchering the U.K. renewables industry and undermining energy- efficiency measures, David Cameron is still trying to fool the British public and, indeed the delegates in Paris, regarding his vow to lead the ‘Greenest Government Ever’-a phrase he used first back in May 2010 when the Coalition Government was being formed.

The UK Government claims that it is on track to meet its climate change target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. 
It claims that emissions at present are 36%below 1990 levels and that this is evidence of its green credentials. 
This figure, incidentally, does not include aircraft emissions that have increased exponentially since 1990. The problem for this Government is that very little of this reduction was due to the impact of renewables. Most of it is due to a switch from coal to gas and a decline in output from heavy industry. The large drop in emissions in 2014 was due to less coal being burned because of the mild winter.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) (an independent organisation which advises the UK and devolved governments on climate change) indicated in its annual report that the UK is not on course to meet its targets after 2020. In addition, the EU has warned that we are not on track to get 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020.
The dreadful irony of the UK Government’s position is that it can now only meet emissions targets by relying on global warming and the malaise affecting British manufacturing. It has set itself against the recommendations of the CCC, such as encouraging investment by extending some subsidy schemes, maintaining support for electric cars and implementing the zero-carbon homes plan.
A looming problem for the UK Government is that its own targets are enforceable through the 2008 Climate Act and it is inevitable that it will find itself in the dock, as it already has been, in its failure to control air pollution. What are the Government’s options? It could do a U-turn and reverse its onslaught on environmental policies that could put it back on track? However, it is more likely it will simply change the rules of the game and repeal the Climate Act. An exit from Europe would precipitate this move since, as a member state, it is still legally bound to increase renewables and cut emissions.
Still we will always have Paris. But with this Government's record, who would put money on it?
 
This letter, by one of our members, was first published in The National on 15 December 2015. You can go to the article here: www.thenational.scot/comment/letters-given-his-record-can-we-trust-david-cameron-on-paris.11190.