The U.K. should effectively eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by rapidly adopting policies that will change everything from the way people heat their homes to what they eat, an independent committee that advises the British government on climate change recommended Thursday.
A report from the Committee on Climate Change said the government must adopt ambitious goals if it wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming and limit the impact of climate change.
While Britain has laid the groundwork to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, existing plans “must be urgently strengthened” because “current policy is not enough even for existing targets,” the committee said.
The panel says the government should reduce the demand for energy overall, increase the electrification of the British economy, develop hydrogen fuel technology and set ambitious targets for carbon capture and storage.
It also calls for reduced consumption of meat and dairy products, changes in how farmers operate and a requirement for electric vehicles to be the only option by 2035.
“We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response,” committee chairman John Gummer said. “The government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”
Environmental groups welcomed the findings, but the proposals could be seen as daunting to some businesses and the government.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to act more boldly on climate change after a visit by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and 10 days of protests that shut down traffic in central London and put the issue squarely on Britain’s political agenda.
The main opposition Labour Party said it is introducing a motion this week asking Parliament to declare an “environmental emergency.” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon went a step further, declaring a “climate emergency” Sunday during a speech to the Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Edinburgh.
While some activists have called for Britain to set a 2025 target for net-zero emissions, May’s Conservative-led government has said it was waiting to see the committee’s report.
The committee said it considered earlier net-zero target dates, but 2050 was the most credible goal.
“An earlier date has been proposed by some groups and might send a stronger signal internationally to those considering increasing their own ambition, but only if it’s viewed as credible,” the panel said.
Environmentalists at the National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the WWF and the Women’s Institute and Woodland Trust said the panel’s work shows that reaching net-zero emissions is both necessary and feasible.
While the alliance of environmental groups applauded the committee’s decision to target all greenhouse gases — not just carbon — and to include shipping and aviation emissions in its calculations, it said it believes Britain should move faster and strive to achieve the goal by 2045.
“The problem is, we’ve been acting as if we have time,” said Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund. “But if we want a world with coral reefs, safe coastal cities and enough food for everyone, we must act now.” (VOA)
A lot of messages denying the effects of global warming might actually have been written by bots as new research from Brown University in the US found that about 25 per cent of the tweets about climate change that they analysed were produced by automated accounts.
Bots are non-personal or automated accounts that post content to social media platforms.
While the findings of the study are yet to be published, The Guardian newspaper reported them after seeing the draft study.
The results suggest that online conversations about climate change are often distorted due to the activities of the bots.
According to a report in the BBC on Saturday, the research team at Brown University analysed 6.5 million tweets from around the time US President Donald Trump revealed his intention to remove the US from the Paris climate accord in 2017.
The analysis showed a quarter of tweets on climate change were likely posted by bots.
“These findings suggest a substantial impact of mechanized bots in amplifying denials messages about climate change, including support for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement,” stated the draft study, according to The Guardian.
The study could not identify the people responsible for setting up the bots that were trained to post climate denial messages on Twitter.
For the study, the researchers used a tool from Indiana University called Botometer, which uses an algorithm to assign a score to Twitter accounts based upon the likelihood they are automated.