ESDGC: Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship
The UK and EU response to Global Warming
It is a well-known fact, in the light of the recent climate change warnings and scientific research, that the adverse impact of global warming is not restricted to the horrific meltdown of the Arctic icecaps or an increasing probability of flooding and irregular weather changes. This is a pending disaster for the global economy as well as the health and wealth of the human species. This realisation by the world leadership, at both the global and EU level, has prompted a great many policy changes in recent years, especially in the form of legal policies to attempt to halt the rapid deterioration of the climatic atmosphere.
Some of these measures have included policy responses at EU level in terms of legislative initiatives pertaining to ozone depletion and climate change – for example, the ‘Key Action on Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity” (under the European Commission’s Environment Programme under the 5th Framework Programme (1998-2002)). In fact, climate change and ozone depletion have been on the agenda of global politics since the 1970s due to the realisation of issues such as acid rain and pollution. Moreover, scientific warnings pertaining to the negative effects of the stratospheric depletion of the ozone layer, which could expose the earth to ultraviolet B radiation, led to the “Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer” of 1985 and the 1987 “Montreal Protocol”, and these have been the basic platform for climate change policy making until now (Open Europe,2007/2008). The past decade has seen the political concern as reflected through the Kyoto protocol and the Stern Report with wide implications (The Stern Report, 2006). All of these policy instruments have now become regulations and laws directly applicable upon EU member states. An example is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the UK ‘Climate Levy’ and congestion charge regime (Pielke, 2005). Nonetheless, there have been protests from many business sectors in the United Kingdom, particularly the Oil and Gas Industry, that these measures will ultimately depress the economy by inflating the costs of production (Guo et al., 2006), especially when booming countries such as China and India seem not to care much about their industries’ effects on the environment and only care about making more and more profit. It seems that even after the recent British general election, heightened concern for cutting down carbon emissions will remain an issue of political and economic interest; legislation to counter it will tend to depend on how much EU member states, and the voters who elect their governments, will be prepared to sacrifice and give back in terms of finance and short-term damage to their economies, rather than receive short term economic benefits (Guo et al., 2006).
In the United Kingdom, there has at least been evidence of an independent effort for a greener environment (EU-ETS, 2009). More recently though, British Green Policy has been much more shaped by EU regulations pressing upon regulatory compliance for carbon contributing business sectors of the UK, and this can be seen in the form of the Climate Change Act 2008 and The Energy Act 2008, which set out ambitious emissions reduction targets by the year 2050. How these efforts will eventually pan out at a more practical level, and whether these targets will be subsequently achieved, remains to be seen.
- Stern, N. (2006). The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- The Energy Saving Trust: Forecasting the future: changing climate, changing behavior (2004)
- Guo, J., C. J. Hepburn, R. S. J. Tol, and D. Anthoff (2006), ‘Discounting and the Social Cost of Climate Change: A Closer Look at Uncertainty’, Environmental Science & Policy, 9, 205–216.
- EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) Phase III, 2013 to 2020 – Briefing Note December 2009
- The UK Emissions Trading Scheme: A New Way to Combat Climate Change National Audit Office, 21 April 2004
Some of the criticisms of the current EU and UK Global Warming initiatives were gathered from the following sources:
Open Europe (2007). Europe’s Dirty Secret: Why the EU Emissions Trading isn’t Working, at: http: //www.openeurope.org.uk.
Open Europe (2008) “A Comparison of the Costs of Alternative Policies for Reducing UK Carbon Emissions”, Europe Economics Report for Open Europe-Www.europe-economics.com, January 2008
Pielke, R. A., Jr. (2005), ‘Misdefining “Climate Change”: Consequences for Science and Action’, Environmental Science & Policy, 8, 548–561.
Appendix of Relevant Climate Change documents at the EU and UK Level
Since the introduction of the EU Climate Change Directives and Policies the following documents of implementing climate change and global warming policy have become important at the EU and UK level:
- A) Documentation reflecting EU Law and Policy for Global Warming
Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC; 2003, OJL 275, 25.10.2003, 32–46.
Directive 2004/101/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 Amending Directive 2003/87/EC Establishing a Scheme for Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowance Trading within the Community, in Respect of the Kyoto Protocol’s project mechanisms, 2004, OJEC 13.11.2004, L 338/18-23.
Proposal 2008/16/EC for a Directive amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system of the Community
Proposal 2008/17/EC for a Decision on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020
Commission of the European Communities CS/2006/5055/ of the 4th January 2006, no.36.
Council Directive 2003/87/EC ‘establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading with the community”
- B) UK Law and Policy measures to prevent Global Warming
The Energy Act 2008
The Climate Change Act 2008
Carbon Accounting Regulations 2008
The Energy Act 2008
The Planning Act 2008
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2005
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2007
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2007
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2007
UK Phase 1 National Allocation Plan 2005-2007
UK Phase 2 National Allocation Plan 2008-2012
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme 2005 (the 2005 Regulations)
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data and National Implementation Regulations 2009