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Government warned over green policies as greenhouse gases hit new high

Government warned over green policies as greenhouse gases hit new high

Government warned over green policies as greenhouse gases hit new high

Lord Deben, the chief climate change adviser to David Cameron, has said the government is "clearly failing" in its approach to some environmental issues.

His comments came as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report revealing that levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached another record high in 2014.

Lord Deben, who served as environment secretary from 1993 to 1997 and is now chairman of the independent committee on climate change, expressed his concerns in an interview with the Observer.

He referred specifically to problems such as energy wastage from draughty, inefficient properties and the unused potential of some renewable heat technologies.

Heating is one of the most difficult challenges and an area where the government has to find the right policies, according to Lord Deben.

"We need a mixture of renewable heat initiatives and energy efficiency. You have to get these two together," he said. "This is the area we have so far failed in. There is an awful lot of heat going to waste."

The government has come in for a lot of criticism for some of its recent policy decisions, such as the reduction in subsidies for solar energy and onshore wind power.

Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the United Nations, said the UK should be one of the countries taking the lead on renewable energy, rather than showing further support for fossil fuels.

According to new EU figures, only 5.1 per cent of energy used in the UK comes from renewable sources and only Malta, Luxembourg and the Netherlands use less sustainable energy as a share of total consumption.

In defence of the government, Lord Deben said Mr Cameron's administration had admitted when certain strategies had failed and had looked for alternatives.

A new 'permanent reality'

The WMO has warned that governments across the world must take action now to address the threat of climate change, after greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere hit a new high in 2014.

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide - the most significant long-lived greenhouse gas - reached 397.7 parts per million (PPM) last year and crossed the 400ppm mark in spring 2015.

WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud warned that we will soon be living in a new "permanent reality" of globally averaged CO2 levels above 400ppm.

"Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations," he said. "Every year we say that time is running out.

"We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels."

Radiative forcing - the warming effect on the climate - increased by 36 per cent between 1990 and 2014, mainly because of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

There are a number of things businesses can do to boost energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, starting with simple steps like switching off all lights, appliances and office equipment when they are not in use, installing recycling bins and switching to an environmentally friendly cleaning company such as Aurora ProClean.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of iStock