The UK Looks Forward

God Save The Queen (Green)! Defying expectations that ambitious carbon emissions standards would be among the first victims of the recent global economic meltdown, the UK has announced its commitment to cutting 80% of its emissions by the year 2050. Rumors abound that the United States and its G-8 allies, having finally agreed to a deal to cut emissions 50% by 2050, would be back tracking due to growing economic concerns. Just last week, The Guardian reported that the European Union would likely use the economic crisis to weaken its stance on carbon controls. Still, the UK chose to accept the recommendations of the government-appointed Climate Change Committee, which said last week that the UK ought to commit itself to an 80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases. Britain’s new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Millband, said that the current standard of 60% would be raised and argued that, despite economic uncertainties, now was not a time to back pedal on a strong commitment to the environment.  “In tough economic times,” he said, “some people ask whether we should retreat from our climate-change objectives. In our view it would be quite wrong to row back and those who say we should misunderstand the relationship between the economic and environmental tasks we face.”

Ruth Davis, the head of climate change at the RSPB, a British nature conservancy, said, “this is one of the most far-sighted and far-reaching climate change initiatives any government could take and is testament to the efforts of campaigners.”

Whether this will inspire similarly ambitious signs of commitment from other G-8 is uncertain, but given the reluctance of the U.S. to even 50% (President Bush achieved an “environmental quid pro quo,” agreeing to the document only if it insisted that India and China accept mandatory caps on carbon emissions), the UK may be stepping out in front alone.

  • Tags: Climate Change, Green Initiatives, Places
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