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BSRIA welcomes outcome of Paris Summit on Climate Change but needs lead from GovernmentDecember 2015


Julia Evans OBE, Chief Executive, BSRIA
BSRIA has welcomed the outcome of the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which completed the stages of negotiation this weekend in Paris, and brought together world leaders to hammer out an agreement aimed at stabilizing the climate and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

The goals include driving down carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels as soon as possible to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial times and maybe as low as 1.5°C. Amber Rudd, the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that “countries have agreed to do this. They have to come forward with the proposals and what you saw at the conference over the past few weeks was the support from civil society, NGOs and critically from businesses who are going to help pay for this”.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “The achievement of this broadly based agreement is a step forward in the drive towards climate control, however, if businesses within the industry are expected to pick up the financial tab, we now need government to set the direction to allow industry to play its part in leading this vital global challenge. Recent government announcements have identified a shrinking investment in renewables. Indeed, there is mounting political scepticism about the UK’s own commitment to standing behind these words, as a result of a series of policy U-turns on climate change by the government – most of them in the built environment.

There are clearly huge changes and challenges ahead in the expected energy transition away from fossil fuels. This global deal now means that the whole world has signed to play its part in halting climate change. Global warming is a real problem, as an industry we have the skills, technology and the desire to make a difference. But the government should do more to back clean technology. It must provide a stable environment that enables investment in cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy generation, including renewable technologies.”

Ms Rudd went on to say that the UK is "absolutely committed" to the Paris climate deal and will be "making sure we deliver on it", but was forced to defend cuts to renewable subsidies by the government since May. She added that government had expanded offshore wind power and had become the first developed country to set an end date for the use of coal. Regarding energy subsidies, she said there was “no point in having renewables which are permanently expensive”.

The Paris agreement, which requires all countries to publish plans to deal with global warming, was hailed by international leaders as a turning point after 23 years of effort to make this century the last to be powered by fossil fuels. It was adopted by 196 nations.


The agreement

Keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.

Governments have agreed to limit the increase in global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Pledges to curb emissions

Before the conference, more than 180 countries had submitted pledges to curt or curb their carbon emissions. These deals are recognised under the agreement, but are not legally binding.

Long-term goal for net zero emissions

Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. That means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must come about by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.

Take stock every five years

187 countries have put forward plans to cut emissions beyond 2020, as far out as 2030. The text has a mechanism to ramp up pledges every five years.

Loss and damage

The deal includes a mechanism for addressing the financial losses vulnerable countries face from climate impacts such as extreme weather.

Money

Developing countries will get funding to adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy. The text says the countries “intend to continue their existing collective mobilisation goal through 2025”. That means the flow of £66bn a year will continue beyond 2020.

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