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2020: An important year for climate justice

David Attenborough's urgent appeal for action against climate change

David Attenborough has warned yet again of the severity of the climate crisis which is so evidently effecting the world as we know it in all corners of the globe; from SE Australia on fire to severe flooding in Indonesia and even the mild winter here in the UK is a sign of changing climate patterns. Sir David Attenborough has stated that “the moment of crisis has come” as this year he launches a year of special coverage on the subject of climate change.

2020 is set to be a critical year for climate negotiations all over the world as effects of global warming become even more prominent. This is a particularly important year for climate change measures here in the UK as in November, Glasgow is set to host the 26th UN Conference of Parties (COP). Eyes from nations all over the globe will be looking at us to set an example and show leadership in policy and innovations to mitigate effects of the changing climate. We must lead by example and have adequate policy in place with a clear plan to decarbonise the economy, hitting our target of ‘net zero by 2050’.

Previous policy has recognised where we need to be heading to hit the net zero target in the heating sector and the solutions that are available however, it has failed to set out a clear and accurate pathway that should be followed to decarbonise heat. 2020 is set to be ‘the year of ambition’ to tackling climate change with our Conservative government setting out in their manifesto to ‘reach net zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.’ With a heat decarbonisation roadmap anticipated to be published this year by BEIS along with another Energy White Paper, 2020 is already set to be an exciting one for policy development during which we will hopefully see tightening of regulations and commitment to reducing pressure on the natural environment.

It is clear that this year requires government action across all sectors and real commitment to driving down emissions. The Committee on Climate Change Net Zero report published in May last year states that the UK ‘must make firm plans’ for housing and domestic heat however, the outline is vague and no solid provisions have been put in place. Over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed to reduce emissions significantly, there is still no serious plan for decarbonising UK heating systems and no large-scale trials have begun for heat pumps or hydrogen. Currently less than 5% of our energy used for heating homes and buildings comes from low-carbon sources yet in 2050 this amount should reach 90% therefore the question stands of how to reach this target in time?

The SEA’s recently published a paper titled ‘Achieving Net Zero: Regulating the Decarbonisation of Heat’ which states that a ‘whole house’ approach will be fundamental to ensure regulation meets the ambitious aim to decarbonise heat to meet the net-zero 2050 target. The paper demonstrates how regulation could put heating on the path to reach net-zero by 2050 and proposes a carbon intensity regulation which would set progressively stricter limits to the permitted emissions per kWh of heating provided. The SEA also recognises that regulation alone may not be enough to hit the net zero mark within the heat industry and therefore suggest that financial incentives for consumers who install energy efficiency measures and established low carbon heating systems should be available.

In 2027, David Attenborough will be 100 years old. It would be wonderful if he was able to reach this milestone confident in the knowledge that more has been done to avert the impacts of climate change. The ball started rolling on this fight in 2008 when the Climate Change Act was introduced into UK policy, but little commitment has been shown to hit the target proposed which was then an ‘80% reduction in 1990 emission levels by 2050.’ Last year, this target was increased to reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050 as discussed above. Therefore, 2020 is the year that firmer commitments need to be in place and action needs to be demanded and progressed throughout government and industry. Lets make 2020 the most productive and committed year yet in the global fight against climate change so we can celebrate our achievements with David on his 100th birthday in 2027, proud that we were at the frontline of the battle to reduce CO2 emissions from heat.

Photo credit: https://dfat.gov.au/pages/default.aspx

Contact the author:  Chloe.Munro@ecuity.com

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020