Obama’s climate change action plan could swing in favour of UK

US President Barack Obama's recent pledge on climate action could create a ripple effect in the UK, placing strong pressure on the Government to reinstate its 'greenest ever' commitments.

Writing for edie, sustainability consultant Gareth Kane believes the implications of Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan could potentially act as a spur for the UK’s green economy with Prime Minister David Cameron highly influenced by US relations.

“If Obama continues to make a strong case for climate action, there will be increasing pressure on David Cameron to follow suit. The PM is an Atlanticist and he will feel peer pressure from the US more strongly than that from Europe,” he said.

Obama’s plan will predominantly focus on internal US energy, transportation and climate resilience policies, whereas in the UK action is largely driven from policies agreed in Europe, Kane pointed out.

“On the face of it, there will be little direct impact … on the other hand, there are likely to be a number of indirect influences,” he noted.

“For starters, the US shale gas revolution has already driven down the price of coal which in turn led to a rise in coal consumption and carbon emissions in the UK last year.

“The Tyndall Centre has estimated that roughly half the carbon savings in the US were offset by coal exports, a rebound effect that makes gas as a carbon-cutting option a lot less attractive.”

Kane added that the UK is entering a “very complex shifting landscape of supply and demand for fossil fuels” as it tentatively explores the feasibility of shale gas path,

“This makes predicting the impact of Obama’s plans on international carbon emissions almost impossible to call,” he said.

Read Gareth Kane’s full article ‘The Obama effect: will the UK up its climate game?’

Maxine Perella

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