The Government’s paradoxical approach to the climate

This week saw two significant climate change events.

Firstly climate scientists from NASA and NOAA officially confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Most scientists now believe that the world is on track for warming of 4C or 5C by the end of the century – and nobody knows what sort of a world that will be, except that it is likely to be exceptionally challenging.

Secondly, the Environment Agency gave approval for Cuadrilla permission to resuming test drilling two miles away from the site that caused earthquakes last time they tried. The coalition government is hell bent on promoting fracking in the UK as aggressively as they can – probably keen to emulate the energy revolution which has happened in the US.

But it has become clear that the last thing the world needs is more fossil fuels. If we are keep warming to 2C – a target that world leaders are still ostensibly signed up to – then it is now recognised that a large proportion of extractable fossil fuels will need to be left in the ground. Actually, the figures are 82% of all coal, 49% of all gas and 33% of all oil.

So, if the Prime Minister is genuinely simultaneously signed up for action on climate change and developing fracking it must mean only one thing – he thinks we can boost our fossil fuel production while expecting others to do the heavy lifting. Given the fraught nature of international climate politics, that doesn’t sound like a realistic position.

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