A leading scientist has urged the government to take into account a recent global climate pledge to cap temperature rises to 2°C in tomorrow’s Budget.
Speaking at a conference on energy security today, Greenpeace UK chief scientist and policy director Doug Parr said that exceeding the 2°C degree threshold agreed upon at the Paris Climate Conference late last year would be dangerous.
“The 2°C threshold is based on the idea of dangerous climate change and going beyond this, it would be a struggle for human civilisation to carry on in the way that it does,” he warned.
“I would like the chancellor [George Osborne] to think about it [the pledge to cap temperature rise] in the Budget tomorrow,” he added.
He said that some progress had been made by the government to reduce reliance on the most pressing fossil fuel issue – that of coal. But added that not enough attention was now being paid to driving down oil and gas usage.
“If we want to minimise fossil fuel use, the first step is to eliminate coal, and the government has committed to that,” he explained. “The next question is how to drive down the usage of the next fossil fuel in line, which in the power sector is gas and in the transport sector is oil.
“The US has got transport and efficiency regulations on heavy goods vehicles; I don’t see why Europe shouldn’t be doing the same.”
He added that if fossil fuels were still a part of the energy mix, then more could still be done to make the process more efficient.
“Let’s make the most of it,” he said. “Let’s make sure we capture the heat. I think that we need a major programme coupled with the decentralisation of combined heat and power especially in a dense urban development where these projects can be made to commercially stack up.”
He then went on the say that more innovation around industry was required particularly around an “absence of a clear programme around carbon capture and storage”.
“We’ve got to make the UK the best place to invest in energy intensive industry which reduces energy demand,” he said.