Climate and environmental issues we should talk about

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After 24 hours, however, the government removed the newspaper from its website, saying it had been posted there in error.

It was a good example of the reluctance of governments around the world to address the issue of behavior change in the fight against the climate crisis.

The average carbon footprint of people in developed countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States is significantly higher than that of people in developing countries around the world, and it is essential to reduce it in order to achieve key climate goals.

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This will require mass behavioral change that will move people away from high-carbon activities such as flying and driving frequently, as well as the regular consumption of high-carbon foods like beef.

This move towards a low-carbon society could have multiple co-benefits, including a healthier and more active population and less air pollution.

However, the UK government and governments around the world have historically been reluctant to take action which could be construed as interfering with an individual’s freedom of choice.

Public transport infrastructure

In the UK, the government has focused heavily on technological solutions to climate change, including a strong push towards vehicle electrification.

In 2020 it pledged to end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, investing £1.8billion to support greater uptake of zero-emission vehicles for car journeys more ecological.

While electric cars are certainly less polluting than diesel or gasoline, greenhouse gas emissions are still produced during the manufacturing process, in particular through the production of batteries.

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Alongside the deployment of electric cars, many experts believe that greater use of public transport and cycling should be encouraged, the former being more efficient in terms of the number of passengers carried in a single vehicle, and the latter not producing no emissions.

Despite this, investment in public transport has been historically low, with experts and local leaders warning in February that up to a third of bus routes could be cut without additional funding.

Public transport prices are also prohibitive in the UK, with domestic flights often being cheaper than the train.

As a result, many people in the UK are being pushed to travel in private vehicles or planes, creating emissions that could otherwise have been avoided.

Climate inequality

As the UK moves closer to its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, one of the risks is that the poorest in society will be left behind or excluded from access to a greener society. and healthier.

Already, climate change and poor environmental health are disproportionately affecting low-income ethnic minority communities in the UK.

Black communities in London, for example, are more exposed to dangerous air pollution than white and Asian populations, while low-income communities are more at risk of flooding than wealthier ones.

Much of the government’s plan to achieve net zero relies on the market for climate solutions and interventions – a strategy that risks leaving out those who cannot afford to participate.

For example, the government encourages the switch to electric vehicles without giving subsidies to those who buy them.

Those who cannot afford an electric vehicle may find themselves paying more through interventions such as clean air zones in cities that charge users of gasoline and diesel cars for the emissions they create.

The government is also offering grants of £5,000 to landlords to install heat pumps in their properties, saving the occupier money on heating bills and reducing emissions.

Yet, as installing heat pumps can end up costing well over £5,000 due to insulation measures and other interventions such as fitting new plumbing, experts fear that homeowners buying to rent are reluctant to install heating systems on behalf of tenants who pay the bills.

This could leave tenants in more drafty homes for longer, pay more for their energy, and continue to generate emissions from heating their homes.

Diet

Meat and dairy products are huge contributors to climate change, with food production accounting for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many reasons why meat and dairy harm the planet, including the methane produced by livestock, the deforestation caused to make way for grazing, and the amount of water and feed needed to keep animals alive. healthy.

While much has been focused on the damage caused by plastic straws in recent years, less has been said about the huge amount of plastic pollution generated by fishing.

It is estimated that lost and discarded fishing gear constitutes the vast majority of the great plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, with around 640,000 tonnes entering the seas each year, the equivalent in weight of more than 50,000 buses to imperial.

Bottom trawling – a fishing technique that involves dragging nets across the seabed – is also environmentally and climate damaging, harming aquatic ecosystems and potentially releasing carbon from the seabed.

Despite the obvious climate and environmental damage caused by the consumption of animal products, discussions about reducing this intake remain highly politicized, with few leaders willing to openly advocate for more diets to herbal basis within the population.

land use

In a recent report on natural solutions to climate change by the Lords Science and Technology Committee, committee members noted that achieving climate goals will require a radical change in the way we use our land for food, sequestration of carbon and building houses.

A minister said the change is so big it could be compared to the last industrial revolution.

Yet as things stand in the UK – and England in particular – land is heavily concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy landowners, making it more difficult to unlock land for the purposes now required.

Land ownership is also highly secretive, with around 15% of land in England completely unregistered, making its ownership almost impossible to determine.

Concentrated land ownership can make it difficult to achieve climate goals in several different ways.

Burning heather on grouse moorland, for example, can release carbon into the atmosphere and increase the likelihood of flooding in nearby areas.

Yet, as nearby residents do not own the land, they have no say in how it is used, while local authorities and government also have little power over land use. in this way.

Currently, the government does not have a comprehensive plan for restructuring land use to meet its climate targets – a shortcoming that its own advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has previously pointed out.

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