UK parties unite around unabated coal phase-out to achieve 2°C goal: A lesson for Australia Media Release

Feb 14, 2015 - 11:45am

The Climate Institute welcomes the important joint pledge by the United Kingdom’s three major political parties to avoid global warming of 2°C or more by keeping to stringent carbon pollution limits and phasing out traditional coal power.

“The UK party leaders have overcome partisan divisions to agree on a united response to climate change,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “This is the kind of approach that we should be seeing in all major countries, including Australia.”

“With its leaders in a climate coalition, the UK is sending a powerful signal about the strength and stability of its commitment to tackle climate change.”

The UK announcement comes just months after the European Union, the United States and China announced ambitious long-term emission reduction targets, and various clean energy initiatives.

"This announcement adds further momentum as we head toward the climate negotiations in Paris in November, where the world will agree on a framework for post-2020 carbon pollution reduction,” said Connor.

The UK’s commitment to close down all coal stations that don’t use carbon capture and storage also boosts efforts to “decarbonise” global energy systems, so that they are carbon neutral by mid-century.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that energy emissions need to be reduced by 90 per cent by 2040. Conservative agencies such as the International Energy Agency, OECD, World Bank and International Monetary Fund have also called on countries to decarbonise their energy supply.

In Australia, the independent Climate Change Authority (CCA) has recognised the need to phase out our ageing and high-polluting fossil fuel power stations.

The CCA has noted that: "The retirement of some existing fossil fuel capacity would certainly make it easier to invest in new renewables or any other type of low-emissions plant. Ultimately, these new investments are essential if Australia is to transition to a low-emissions economy."

Connor said: “This historic move from the UK improves the investment environment in that country, by improving predictability and reducing the risk, or avoiding a growing carbon bubble.”

“It’s a stark contrast to the situation in Australia, where political divisions have caused severe damage to the investment environment for climate and clean energy, leaving us sliding backward as the rest of the world charges ahead.”

“The UK’s move gives hope that other nations, including Australia, will also act to limit rising global temperature and serve their own national interests by decarbonising their economies and focusing on modernisation and innovation for a cleaner economy."

For information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, 02 8239 6299

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