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Government starts summer climate programme with UK projections

fireUK Government Ministers this summer plan to set out the building blocks of a five-point plan designed to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home and abroad, and to protect against and prepare for the climate changes that are already inevitable.

The plan rollout began this week with the publicaton by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of the latest UK climate projections.

The Government plans to take action on five fronts:

  1. Protecting the public from immediate risk. Climate change is already happening in the UK — the ten hottest years on record have all been since 1990, the South and Southeast of England are short of water, and there have seen increased incidents of flooding. The Government has more than doubled spending on flood protection since 1997, developed a heat wave plan in the NHS and is helping communities affected by coastal erosion. This week ,Defra announced its coastal management policy and the Environment Agency will be setting out its investment priorities on flood protection up to 2035;
  2. Preparing for the future. Whatever is done to reduce emissions in the future, past emissions mean that some climate change is already inevitable.  Defra’s UK Climate Projections published today will be used to help plan for a future with a changing climate. It’s planned that 103 providers of important public services will be required to report on their assessment of climate risks and their plans to respond to these. Government departments will also be producing adaptation plans by April 2010. Factoring climate risk into decision-making means, for example, changing the way we build our houses and infrastructure, managing water better and adjusting farming practices;
  3. Limiting the severity of future climate change through a new international climate agreement. To limit global temperature increases to no more than two degrees and avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, the Government is leading international efforts to achieve a new international climate agreement at Copenhagen in December. We must ensure global emissions start to fall within the next decade and will be at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Later in June, the Government will set out its aims for the Copenhagen deal;
  4. Building a low carbon UK. To play our part in reducing global emissions, Britain needs to become a low-carbon country. The 2008 Climate Change Act made Britain the first country in the world to set legally binding “carbon budgets,” aiming to cut UK emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and at least 80 per cent by 2050 through investment in energy efficiency and clean-energy technologies such as renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage. The Government will in mid-July publish a White Paper setting out how to meet its carbon budgets while maintaining energy security, creating jobs and economic opportunities for UK firms, and protecting the most vulnerable;
  5. Supporting individuals, communities and businesses to play their part. The Government notes that everyone has a role to play in tackling climate change, from reducing their own emissions to planning for adaptation. Building on its “Act on CO2” information campaign, the Government is providing a range of support for individuals, communities and businesses, including a major programme of financial help for home insulation and energy efficiency.

Over the summer, a number of UK Government departments will set out a wide range of initiatives and policies to take forward these plans: UK Climate Projections 2009 (today), publication of “The Road to Copenhagen” (late June),  release of an International Development White Paper (this summer), release of a National Strategy for Climate and Energy (mid-July) and public engagement on climate change (throughout July).

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