It’s no secret that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today, and it’s clear that the vast majority of nations aren’t doing enough to combat the inevitable catastrophe that awaits. Boris Johnson has been an advocate for tackling climate change for may years, but is he doing enough?
Johnson himself has admitted to only waking up to the realities of the climate crisis whilst he was Mayor of London, telling reporters that having dug deeper into the science he decided there was “no question that we have to deal with [climate change]”. His recent speech to the UN General Assembly, where he told the world to “grow up” over the issue, also bodes well for environmentalists – but these are just words, and it would be interesting to know whether Johnson, and the UK in general, has lived up to them?
From initial statistics, it looks good for the UK, as there has been a forty-four percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, which is higher than many other developed nations. As well as this, this use of coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel- to create energy has gone from forty-one million tonnes in 2010, to just over two million tonnes in 2020, and this figure is down from eighty-four million tonnes in 1990. That is a dramatic reduction, and although natural gas has taken much of the load off coal, renewables and low-carbon sources have also been increasing.
So far, the UK has led the world in reducing carbon emissions and creating a greener environment, and much of this has been done under Conservative governments
The Conservatives current attitude towards climate change had some precedent, with Margaret Thatcher putting green issues in the national agenda. During the late 1980s she made several speeches, one famously to the UN, where she implored the global community to do more to protect the environment – mirroring Johnson’s recent speech. So far, the UK has led the world in reducing carbon emissions and creating a greener environment, and much of this has been done under Conservative governments.
It’s still abundantly clear, however, that there is much more to be done, and there are some clear solutions that aren’t being advanced as much as they should be. Nuclear energy – powerful, low-carbon, and reliable – will be the saving grace of this country if the climate crisis is to be solved. Currently the UK operates seven nuclear reactors, of which all will be decommissioned by 2035, and only Hinkley Point C will be newly constructed in the next decade. Yes, they’re expensive, and extremely difficult to operate, but the crisis that we face if our energy supply isn’t revolutionised will undoubtably cost more.
Unfortunately, we can’t simply rely on the weather for our electricity. This is why it’s so baffling when environmentalist groups are so violently opposed to nuclear energy, such as the Green Party who want to phase out all nuclear power stations and have wind power as the main energy producer.
If we want to avoid a future with rolling blackouts and unreliable energy supplies, the government must invest in nuclear energy
The Scottish Government, too, have banned any new nuclear power stations in Scotland, and for what? The new Hinkley Point station takes up four-hundred and thirty acres of land to produce twenty-six terrawhatt hours of energy per year, you would need up to four-hundred and ninety thousand acres of offshore wind to produce the same amount, and that isn’t nearly as reliable as nuclear. If we want to avoid a future with rolling blackouts and unreliable energy supplies, the government must invest in nuclear energy, which it is, unfortunately, not doing.
A need to create positive trade news in a post-Brexit environment have trumped environmentalist concerns
The new proposed UK-Australia trade deal has also come under some criticism for going against climate commitments that the government has made. The deal, of which details have yet to be released, would see the potential for increased imports of beef from deforested land and significantly lower animal welfare standards. Australia also has been ranked the worst country in the world for climate action. It seems, on the surface at least, that a need to create positive trade news in a post-Brexit environment have trumped environmentalist concerns.
The climate crisis is pressing, and despite the success of the UK in recent years to decarbonise, it’s clear that not enough is being done. It’s hard to see, without utilising solutions such as nuclear energy, the crisis being averted in a successful and sustainable way.
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