Saturday May 25, 2019

UK must Adopt Ambitious Goals to Fight against Global Warming by 2050

While Britain has laid the groundwork to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, existing plans “must be urgently strengthened”

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climate change, earth's resources
FILE - Climate change demonstrators hold banners in front of the Winston Churchill Statue during a protest near Parliament in London, April 12, 2019. VOA

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.

fight global warming, UK
FILE – Demonstrators take part in a protest against climate change, organized by the YouthStrike4Climate movement, in London, March 15, 2019. VOA

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.

fight global warming, UK
A climate change activist is detained during the Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London, April 20, 2019. VOA

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.

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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)

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Chile’s Southern Patagonia Ice Field Split in Two, Continue to Fracture Amid Climate Change

The chunk of ice that split off from the main glacier was estimated at 208 square kilometers (80.3 square miles), a relatively small part of the ice field

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climate change
Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier in Lake Argentina at Los Glaciares National Park near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. VOA

Chile’s 12,000 square kilometer (4,633 square mile) Southern Patagonia Ice Field split in two and is likely to continue to fracture amid climate change, according to a team of Chilean scientists who were in the region in March.

Gino Casassa, chief of the Snow and Glacier Division of Chile’s DGA water authority, told Reuters increasing temperatures along the Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina have meant less snow and ice to replenish the region’s abundant glaciers.

“What occurred is a fracture as the ice has retreated, Casassa said.

climate change
Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina have meant less snow and ice to replenish the region’s abundant glaciers. Pixabay

The chunk of ice that split off from the main glacier was estimated at 208 square kilometers (80.3 square miles), a relatively small part of the ice field.

But Casassa said it may be a sign of things to come. The ice field, he said, is now “split in two, and we’ll likely discover further divisions to the south,” he said.

Two icebergs broke off the Grey Glacier in southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park earlier this year, adding to fears that such ruptures are becoming more frequent. (VOA)