In December 2015, World leaders assembled in Paris at the COP21 conference to discuss the urgency of implementing a global plan to prevent and reverse the effects of climate change. In summary, an agreement was reached – signed by over 200 countries – to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit future global temperature increases by a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (ideally by 1.5 degrees Celsius).
What initially was hailed as a successful outcome has since been tarred with doubts from analysts suggesting that the targets are unrealistic, in addition to President Trump making his stance to pull the US out of the agreement, although this cannot legally happen until 2020.
Previously, at the time of the COP21 agreement, analysts suggested that for the target to be met, carbon emissions worldwide would have to reduce to practically zero within just seven years; completely unachievable.
However, analysts have since used new data and computer models that show a more positive, although still hopeful, outcome. The conclusion was that if all of the countries implement the actions set out in the agreement to achieve the carbon reductions, we do have a chance at avoiding the catastrophes that are triggered by global warming by the end of the century. For more details of the research and scenarios, visit the Carbon Brief’s article here.
The timing of the Paris agreement in 2015 also clashed with the Government’s decision to all but abolish the feed-in tariff in January 2016 which undermined their commitment to reducing carbon emissions by halting solar deployment that had seen fantastic progress in the 2 years prior. Since then, little support has been shown by the Government although their support for electric vehicles has now been given in addition to seeing the benefits of increasing the use of battery storage on a utility and commercial scale, as evidenced in their latest energy strategies.
It may be that the UK Government finally understand the importance and benefit of multiple energy technologies working together – from generation to storage – as a significant step towards decarbonising the UK’s energy market and making significant contributions towards the COP21 targets. Nevertheless, there’s still a long way to go and the future of our planet will rely on much quicker and effective strategies.