In the last five years, we have worked to radicalise environmental debate in the UK, giving others the space to push for deeper change in policy, attitudes and values. This has ranged from highlighting the urgency of the problems we face (in Climate Safety and The Green Investment Gap) to producing pioneering research into the potential for transforming our energy system (in Zero Carbon Britain and The Offshore Valuation) to advocating radical policy solutions (in Energy Bonds and Carbon Omissions).
Insomniac followers of PIRC may have already caught this, but at around 3am last night Radio 5 live’s programme ‘Up All Night’ featured a slot on the topic of outsourced carbon emissions by Julian O’Hallaran – including some (fortunately pre-recorded) comments by PIRC’s Guy Shrubsole.
You can listen again here (relevant programme is 2 hrs 5 mins in).
This piece originally appeared on Left Foot Forward.
The influential Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Parliamentary select committee have today demanded the government take responsibility for the UK’s still-rising emissions, stating Britain “has to address its consumption if it is to make an effective contribution to a global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”.
Whilst on paper, Britain’s carbon emissions have fallen by 19% since 1990, when measured on a consumption basis – by factoring in imported goods that the UK consumes – they have risen by 20% over the past 20 years.
As the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) showed through an investigation using Freedom of Information requests last year, ministers and civil servants have been fully aware of this extremely concerning trend for many years, yet done nothing – content to maintain a conspiracy of silence.
Since the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 and the ‘Climategate’ debacle of early 2010, media interest in climate science has declined, and the public become somewhat more sceptical about its veracity. Yet the evidence base itself has only become more robust in that time. Conveying the certainties and uncertainties of climate science to the public – through a media that has become much more polarised about the subject – is a recurrent challenge for campaigners.
Responding to this, PIRC has put together the following set of factsheets, covering different aspects of climate science. The factsheets look at the evidence for climate change from a range of angles, such as global temperature trends and Arctic ice melt, and traces the fingerprint of climate change in various phenomena, from floods and heatwaves to wildfires and species extinctions. Each briefing contextualises the issue in question, summarises the background science, and addresses common objections raised by sceptics. Drawing on the latest peer-reviewed studies, they are intended to be a solid, reliable and concise guide for campaigners wishing to communicate climate science with accuracy and confidence.
Climate change research encompasses tens of thousands of peer-reviewed studies, decades of observations and the work of thousands of scientists. But too often this valuable knowledge doesn’t reach the people who need it most: climate change communicators & campaigners. By taking the latest scientific research and translating it into practical factsheets on a wide range of climate change topics, we hope to ensure that those responsible for communicating climate change to a wider public have easy access to the best available evidence.
A good piece today by Ros Donald over at Carbon Brief examines the Government’s latest emissions figures. PIRC spoke to Carbon Brief, commenting on the new figures: “It seems like a cop-out on the part of the government given that this research is being done but not publicised or used to drive policy.”
PIRC’s Co-Director Guy Shrubsole has given evidence before a Parliamentary Select Committee on the subject of outsourced emissions. A video of the session held by the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee can be viewed here. A transcript of the session can be read here.
Professor John Barrett from Leeds University has written a great take-down of the Government’s latest claims to have cut Britain’s carbon footprint. Barrett should know: he’s authored many of Defra’s own papers into the subject of outsourced emissions.
PIRC has submitted written evidence to the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee’s inquiry into consumption-based emissions reporting. You can read our submission online here.
PIRC has produced a briefing paper – Outsourced emissions and global trade in the green economy – for the Global Transition Dialogues, a set of high-level debates being organised in the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The paper was commissioned by Stakeholder Forum and can be downloaded as a PDF here.
MPs have stepped up the pressure on government Ministers to take responsibility for the UK’s outsourced carbon emissions, in a series of developments today.
This morning, the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published its report on carbon budgets, calling on government to review its current method of reporting emissions, and instead report on the total emissions resulting from our consumption.