Boris Johnson and the ongoing climate crisis

The climate crisis has been the focus of the PM’s attention this week, after he claimed Thatchers’ closure of the coal mines has aided the fight against climate change.
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4 min read
Climate change protest

Recently the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been in hot water since he claimed that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher actually aided the fight against climate change when she closed the coal mines, which has caused much controversy when considering her legacy as PM.

The Labour Party accused Johnson of ‘failing to treat the crisis with the seriousness it deserves’ as well as being complacent with the UK’s attitude to fighting carbon emissions. Scientists from the United Nations and a report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have concluded that global carbon emissions have already caused irreversible damage to the environment and the atmosphere.

Amelia Womack, the Green Party’s deputy leader said that: ‘From floods and fires to droughts and rising sea levels, we are already living in a changed climate and we now have a very small window of opportunity to reverse these effects through bold and urgent action…’. The interest group Extinction Rebellion has confirmed the continuance of their campaign to highlight the importance of climate change, and is planning disruption across London from Monday August 23rd, by obstructing key roads and buildings until real climate action has been taken.

Johnson earlier promised that the UK’s carbon emissions level will be cut by at least 68% by 2030, which will be in line roughly with 1990s emissions levels, but Labour say that this target is still inadequate.

This November, the UK will host the Cop26 global climate change conference. The conference gives participating countries the opportunity to set out plans of how they will reduce their carbon emissions and contribute to the collective goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above levels prior to the Industrial Revolution, in a bid to reduce the impact climate change has on extreme and adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rainstorms, droughts and the recent intense heatwaves.

Alok Sharma, the former Secretary of State for Business and now the president of the Cop26 conference, said that the worst of climate change is avoidable and that countries within the G20 contribute to 80% of total global carbon emissions. ‘The reality is that we need far more in terms of action, and action that actually follows the facts’, Sharma went on.

The Prime Minister earlier in the year announced new plans to tackle climate change and meet their 68% emission reduction target, such as banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and getting rid of gas boilers within four years.

These plans were met with criticism that poorer Britons would be hit financially hard, especially since electric cars are much more expensive to purchase than regular petrol and diesel cars, and further costs will be incurred through carbon efficiency measures such as solar panels and low carbon boilers.

In a recent social media post, Johnson attempted to address these claims by admitting that it would be far cheaper and effective to act now to avoid both environmental and economic damage to the country, and claimed that the UK had halved emissions within the last three decades.

He also reiterated his target of making the UK ‘net zero’ by 2050, and went on to further set out four main goals he wishes to focus on:

  • Coal: Power will no longer be generated by coal by 2040.
  • Cars: Fossil fuels will no longer be depended upon to fuel transport.
  • Cash: Britain and other well-developed nations that emit a high volume of emissions will commit $100bn a year to tackling climate change and cleaning up the environment.
  • Trees: Johnson pledged to restore natural habitats that have been damaged as a result of high emissions and end deforestation.

With the conference looming, and sea level and carbon emissions continuing to rise, it is clear the pressure on the Prime Minister to take urgent action on the matter is increasing – but the Conservative leader continues to insist that the UK is a role model in cutting its carbon footprint.

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