The sustainable energy charity welcomed the Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report but its head of cities argues more citizen engagement is required.
Climate change action should engage and connect people through citizens’ panels and policy-making, believes sustainable energy charity, Ashden.
The comments followed the release of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) report which says we must eliminate our carbon emission to zero by 2050. Ashden welcomed the report but said we can go “further and faster, and we must”.
The CCC said that 10 years after the Climate Change Act became law, now is “the right moment” to set a more ambitious goal. It added that achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.
Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels, driving changes in our climate. In the last 10 years, pledges to reduce emissions by the countries of the world have reduced the forecast of global warming from above 4°C by the end of the century to around 3°C and the CCC says that net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to further limit the rise to 1.5°C.
“Protests by Extinction Rebellion, the remarkable wisdom of Greta Thunberg and our own home-grown equally amazing David Attenborough have all placed climate change and its implications front and centre of citizens’ minds,” said Simon Brammer, head of cities at Ashden. “However, much of the discussion is still about giving things up. We have a different view.
“By engaging people through structures like citizens’ panels and connecting climate policy making to the needs of everyone, we can demonstrate that the consequences of climate action improve lives, not diminish them.”
Ashden said it would lead to better jobs, more money in local economies, clean air, health travel options, green spaces or warm and cheap-to-heat homes as well as engage peoples’ values.
”We need to re-frame climate change to show how it makes our quality of life better. There is no better time than now”
“Through a co-benefits analysis we can multi-solve climate and social issues simultaneously and drive money from housing, transport, infrastructure or economic development budgets into urgent climate action,” added Brammer.
“Reducing levels of air pollution, for example will massively reduce the costs of NHS treatment and in turn free-up money to be spent on home energy efficient improvement or sustainable green transport.
“Engaging the population in this way shows them that responding to climate changes makes their lives better and in turn this gives governments, be they local, regional or national the agency to implement more radical carbon-cutting measures and the funds to do so.
”We need to re-frame climate change to show how it makes our quality of life better for all of us. There is no better time than now.”
The approach is at the heart of Ashden’s liveable cities programme and it will be launching a toolkit later in June to help local and combined authorities realise that potential.
To read the Committee on Climate Change’s report, go to Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming
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