UK & World News

  • 13 April 2014, 17:52

Ed Davey: World's Climate Is 'On A Precipice'

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said the world is "looking down a precipice" as the UN urges more solar and wind power investment.

The minister, who is also responsible for climate change, told Sky News' Murnaghan programme, that the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a "stark warning".

The report says massive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are needed in the next few decades if the world is to avoid "dangerous" climate change.

Mr Davey said: "This is a stark warning that the world is looking down a precipice if we do not take action now."

"But it also says, and some good news, that the cost of renewables, things like solar and wind, are coming down, so we can go green in an affordable way."

The latest UN report is the third part of a detailed review of the way in which the world's climate is being changed by greenhouse gases and what can be done about it.

Two weeks ago the second part of the review said the impact of climate change was likely to be "irreversible" and could lead to wars.

It said that Britain would face soaring food prices, deadly floods and heatwaves, which would only be lessened if action was taken sooner rather than later. 

In the latest part of the report, the IPCC says substantial reductions in greenhouse gases will be needed, through large-scale changes to the ways we generate energy and how we use it.

It says we need to curb deforestation and start planting forests.

Emissions need to be reduced by 40% to 70% on 2010 levels by the middle of the century and to near zero by 2100 to prevent temperatures going up by more than 2C, the report said.

There will need to be a three- or four-fold increase by 2050 in the share of energy that comes from low-carbon sources such as renewables, nuclear and power plants fitted with technology to capture and store carbon underground.

By the end of the century fossil fuel power plants without carbon capture and storage will need to be virtually phased out.

A failure to take action could result in temperatures soaring 3.7C to 4.8C by 2100, the experts warned.

Mr Davey admitted that there was a split at the heart of government over plans to cut green subsidies.

But he said the government's record showed that there was agreement about what could be done.

"The coalition government actually has done more on the green economy, more on low carbon, than any predecessor.

"Britain is leading the way. Not only have we implemented action, the Energy Act 2013, to create the world's first ever low carbon electricity market; we've got the green investment bank - the first bank that's not just being judged by financial performance, but by how it is cutting carbon - and in Europe, the coalition have been leading the way to make sure Europe has the most ambitious, the toughest, greenhouse gas reduction target."

He added that the UK is the world leader in offshore wind power, with more offshore wind electricity generating capacity in the pipeline than the rest of the world put together.

Also, he said, the UK leads the world on carbon capture, which involves removing carbon dioxide from gas or coal-fired powerplant emissions and storing it underground. 

 

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