Solutions to the problem can be applied at a number of levels. On the international level, we need a strong agreement on a climate treaty that aims to reduce emissions so that the world’s temperature rises by less than 2 degrees celcius. The next UNFCCC summit in Paris in December needs to be a fair agreement, reflecting the historic responsibility of developed nations for CO2 emissions, and encouraging developing nations to use clean technologies for growth. Rather than relying on techno-fixes like nuclear power and carbon capture and storage, or economic mechanisms like carbon trading or joint implementation, this next agreement needs to tackle the root cause of the problem by drastically reducing the amount of fossil fuels we burn and the amount of energy we waste.
On the national level, the Climate Change Act became law in November 2008, after a huge grassroots lobbying campaign from Friends of the Earth called The Big Ask, which called on MPs around the country to put their support behind the Act. The Climate Change Act was the first national-level law to commit a country to legally binding annual cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and is a good first step towards making sure that the UK plays a strong role in keeping global temperatures below danger levels. More recently the government have cut subsidies to clean energies and gone on to promote fracking, despite the extremely harmful impacts involved.
Although the Act should bind our government to work towards a reduction in greenhouse gases like CO2, we now need to make sure that these good intentions are turned into action by creating Low Carbon Communities across the country. In Birmingham, these opportunities and challenges are being taken up: with a rapidly growing expertise in lifestyle change and new technology, and continued input from campaigning groups like Birmingham Friends of the Earth, the city’s ambitious goals to cut carbon emissions and meet the challenge of climate change can (and must) be met. Councils across the West Midlands should also divest their pension funds from fossil fuels and instead invest in renewable energy and the local economy.