Scientists call on UK Government to fast track climate mitigation to respond to cost-of-living crisis
A group of climate scientists has warned that the recent approval of new oil and gas licenses in the UK will not combat the cost-of-living crisis, instead calling on the Government to accelerate responses and mitigation to the climate crisis.
A new report published today (14 November) from the climate science charity Scientists Warning Europe has analysed the impact that climate change has and will have on the cost of living in the UK.
The report notes that the UK can harness economic opportunities by fast-tracking renewables and other low-carbon measures to reduce emissions.
It also notes that the UK will need to focus on mitigation and adaptation measures in order to improve the cost-of-living scenario in the UK.
Research states that the economic risk of inaction has grown substantially in the UK. The chance that the UK would incur damages of £1bn per year by 2050 under a 2C scenario was just 5% in 2012, but has now grown to more than 20%. There is some evidence that UK climate impacts are still being “systemically underestimated”, the report adds.
The report warns that inaction on mitigation will worsen the cost of living crisis. Crop failures are and will continue to elevate food prices, while flood damages continue to impact homes and businesses. “These climate-induced stresses, compounded by geopolitical factors like Brexit and the Ukraine conflict, underscore the UK’s vulnerability in the face of international supply chain disruptions,” the report adds.
As the UK is a net-importer, it will be more exposed to these risks, which will trick down onto those in lower-income brackets, who will face the worst of any future economic fluctuations.
Responding to these issues through mitigation and adaptation measures could, the report argues, deliver economic benefits for the UK, while improving health. Swift transitions to cleaner energy and reformed food systems would reduce costs, enhance climate resilience, and improve health outcomes.
Oil and gas
The Conservative Party recently commenced a major North Sea oil and gas licensing round last year and recently set out plans for another this coming season. Last month, 27 new licenses were offered under the former round.
The King’s Speech today confirmed a new policy, mandating that the UK Government must host a new licensing round each year.
Environmental campaigners are, as expected, voicing anger and disappointment. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 1.5C-aligned pathway to a global net-zero energy system by 2050 includes an immediate halt to all upstream oil and gas projects with long lead times.
The new report echoes this disappointment, stating that the oil and gas licensing will not improve the cost-of-living situation in the UK.
Indeed, previous bodies of research have highlighted that the net-zero transition could be worth £1trn to UK businesses by 2030. Additionally, the Government estimates that 480,000 green jobs will be required, of which around 250,000 have been created so far.
To mobilise even more action, the report calls for the Government to adopt the 300 recommendations of the 2023 Climate Change Committee Progress Report to Parliament.
Dr Paul Behrens, Associate Professor at Leiden University, and report author said: “The UK can access these opportunities by adopting previous recommendations by the UK Climate Change Committee, including stopping fossil fuel expansion.
“There is also the urgency for further modelling to assess additional economic benefits of expedited transition by 2040 and even 2030. We knew the risks. We now know the possibilities. We just need to move faster to take advantage of them.”
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