In this report we argue that if the UK is realistically going to reach an outcome equivalent to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2050, we need to start mapping out an alternative solution.
With less than four decades to go, the UK is already losing the climate change mitigation battle. The greenhouse gas emission targets set by the government require a rate of reduction that has never been achieved by even the most progressive nations in the world.
To decarbonise the nation and achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas output by 2050, the UK will need to undertake a monumental task at a scale it has never seen before, reducing carbon output per unit of GDP by over 5% annually until 2050. Between 2001 and 2006, we achieved an average of 1.3% annual reduction, but in more recent years, progress has been far more limited.
Globally, while the UK is one of the better performing nations, France has the most decarbonised economy among the large developed nations through its move towards nuclear power as the predominant source of electricity generation.
- Adopt a MAG approach to climate change policy to help reach our targets
The UK will fail to achieve the outcome desired by the 2050 80% GHG reduction target without the adoption of a unified mitigation, adaptation and geo-engineering (MAG) policy. This single integrated policy approach would continue mitigation policy (such as decarbonising energy and transport systems) as well as develop effective temporary geo-engineering solutions and an adaptation strategy to protect critical assets from inevitable climate change impacts.
This approach would be a world first and offer a possible global route-map for many other nations. The full adoption of a MAG policy could also increase the UK green sector to over two million jobs by 2050, guaranteeing many organisations decades of work reducing emissions and protecting our nation.
- Introduce centralised control for climate change policy
All parts of government responsible for mitigation, adaptation and geo-engineering activity should be moved into a remodelled Department of Energy and Climate Change. This new ‘security’ department (Department of Energy and Climate Security) would have sole responsibility, and the necessary powers, to direct national funding, planning, development, commissioning and implementation of the MAG strategy, having priority above nearly all other departments.
- Develop a comprehensive MAG battle plan to secure our future and help industry plan future skill requirements
The government should work with the engineering profession and business community to develop a comprehensive plan for the implementation of geo-engineering and adaptation alongside the transition to a low-carbon economy. This plan should be scaled over at least 100 years or until the geo-engineering element is eliminated.