We are facing a host of climate challenges here in the United States—and across the globe, for that matter. For instance, different places in the United Kingdom openly report they are missing the mark. I recently had an opportunity to gain a better understanding of what is transpiring in the United Kingdom from Chris Stark, chief executive, Climate Change Committee.
He stresses last year was the hottest year on record for the United Kingdom. “We also have droughts,” he says. “We have wildfires in this country. We have winter storms. All sorts of impacts are playing out. I think, for me, the interesting thing is people in this country are seeing it.”
He goes on to explain the kind of summer the United Kingdom had last year is going to be a normal summer by the middle of this century. Droughts also stand out, necessitating better management of water systems.
“In the U.K. what we do on climate change is determined by the Climate Change Act, which is a piece of legislation that went through parliament in 2008,” he explains. “And it was one of the first national pieces of legislation on climate anywhere in the world.” The Climate Change Committee was created by that act.
At the end of the day, all nations will have to achieve net zero in a warming climate. The United Kingdom has a long-term goal, policy, and targets that are in line with the international obligations that the United Kingdom has with the Paris Agreement.
“There is a real need to use the power of the state here in a way that spreads those costs in a fair way, but also spreads the benefits,” Stark continues. “You absolutely need to have a geographically specific outlook on this. Spatial information is really important in the discussion of adaptation.”
He makes an interesting point that having a regional response to something means that funding of it is a bigger challenge because it becomes harder to win an argument nationally.
“Most people understand that something has happened to the climate,” he says. “Most businesses understand that something has happened to the climate. But they haven’t, I think mostly at least, engaged with how much worse it will be in the future if we don’t act.”
Here in the United States, we face our own challenges. There is no policy from state to state, and therefore we don’t have adaptation plans, which ultimately means we don’t have a resilient economy. At the end of the day, there are major gaps and when there are gaps and no policy, you can’t reach goals.
I believe we need to go back to the basics: we need to act locally and think globally. We need to make decisions that impact everyone, but we need to have policy that impacts all states.
We need to remember mitigation is about reducing CO2 emissions and even stabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While adaption is about adjusting to the climate change already in the pipeline, it’s not about control but establishing regulations that make sense for the good of all of us. What are your thoughts?
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