Carbon footprint

Carbon footprint

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The UK Met Office, in conjunction with the UK Climate Change Committee, prescribed a national emissions control regime for the UK [an 80% emissions cut by 2050] as the UK’s ‘equitable share’ of an international agreement mooted to avoid dangerous rates of Climate Change [a 100% emissions cut globally by 2100].


By their own admission, the Act omits major climate-altering feedback effects such as CO2 and CH4 emissions release and atmospheric concentrations rising from melting permafrost. This omission alone is alarming and by definition renders the UKMO’s whole prognosis of ‘climate-control’ inadequate, unreliable and complacent at best.


Aubrey Meyer, Director of the Global Commons Institute, who devised contraction and convergence as a solution to dangerous climate change said: -


“It is alarming  that a whole range of these significant and potentially very dangerous feedback effects are still – after 20 years - being entirely omitted from the UKMO’s ‘climate models’. Moreover, UKMO is now feeding this work into the preparations for the IPCC 5th Assessment due in 2014.

A growing danger of emissions from Permafrost melt for example is that human efforts to control human ‘budget-emissions’ can become overwhelmed by the accelerating release of the non-human ‘feedback emissions’ that will occur uncontrollably as the planet warms.


To continue making these omissions now, aids and abets the cause of climate-deniers, people who have already rightly been accused of crimes against humanity by James Hansen.”


Aubrey Meyer recently gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee where he outlined the flawed thinking of the UK Met Office.


The Green Party with other Green Parties around the world has advocated the policy framework of Contraction and Convergence [C&C] since 1998. It is widely recognized that the UK Climate Act of 2008 is based on C&C. However, by prescribing contraction by 2100 with convergence by 2050, it asserted rates of C&C that are inadequate and inequitable.


While the C&C Principle is correct, in practice the rates-prescription in UKCA is incapable of generating the international consensus necessary to achieve UNFCCC-compliance. Global emissions contraction must be fast enough to achieve the objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] on a precautionary basis [for example 100% contraction by 2050]. Within this, international convergence on equal shares per person must be negotiated to a rate fast enough to satisfy the Convention’s Equity Principle by rapidly reconciling the growing gap between over-consumers and under-consumers [for example convergence by 2020 or 2030].


Establishing such an agreement, would free humanity from the international deadlock that has frustrated negotiations for the last 20 years. It would create a new momentum of creativity and common purpose and give future generations better prospects than those they face without it.





C&C is again the subject of a Select Committee Enquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee [EAC] into the adequacy of the Climate-Act and the targets that it set.

In principle the Green Party welcomed the Act on its arrival for two reasons: -


1.       Many, including UNEP and the IMF have drawn attention to this critical omission OF FEEDBACK EMISSIONS. It by definition the UK Act directs a programme of doing too little too late.

2.       With an international rationale, it sought finally to establish national legislation with the purpose of avoiding dangerous rates of climate change achieving UNFCCC-compliance;

3.       It was modelled on the conceptual framework - Contraction and Convergence [C&C] - that the UK Green Party had been advocating since 1998 and which became the subject of many awards including a Nobel Prize nomination in 2008 from an All-Party committee of MPs.

C&C has a high degree of support on an All-Party basis in the UK House of Commons: -

C&C also has a high degree of support institutionally and internationally: -


As it stands in practice however, the UK Climate Act is not fit for purpose. Between them, the emissions contraction and concentrations model from the UK Met Office and the contraction and convergence prescription from the UK independent Climate Change Committee which underpins the Act, has three major defects:  -


1.       Many, including UNEP and the IMF have drawn attention to this critical omission. It by definition the UK Act directs a programme of doing too little too late.

2.       Creating a policy-makers nightmare, the feedback effects that are included however are indistinguishably mixed into the ‘Carbon Budget’ in the Act with a margin of error on the resulting atmospheric concentrations of carbon that weighs 300 billion tonnes of carbon [300 Gt C] which is equal to 75% of the budget. These results range from 100% of the ‘Carbon-Budget’ being returned to the carbon-sinks that UKMO speculatively claims remain ‘enlarged’ sufficient for this purpose, to 80% of this ‘Carbon-Budget’ remaining airborne because the sinks don’t perform that way, raising temperature out of control: -

3.       Though the Climate Change Committee stated to the EAC in 2009 that they saw no other way of achieving international consensus than ‘Convergence’, they created an international furore at COP-15 in 2009 when the UK and its allies attempted to make the C&C rates in the UK Climate Act the basis of the international plan for UNFCCC-compliance, by prescribing 2050 as the date for the international convergence of shares in the Budget, instead of negotiating it.  By 2050, 80% of this future-budget will have been used up by the very parties responsible for creating the problem. This and then denouncing the Chinese for this failure after the event, was as damaging as the furore created by the UK with ‘Global Cost Benefit Analysis’ and Unequal Loss of Life evaluation at COP-1 in 1995.

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