Climate change stays above stormy British politics

As one of the first cohort of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network, I was struck by how politically uncontentious climate change is in the UK compared with many other countries. For example, May saw Labor’s Anthony Albanese win power in Australia’s elections partly by promising to “end the climate wars” and accelerate action to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In Britain, action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has had cross-party support for many years, floating above whatever other political storms have raged. Soon-to-be former prime minister Boris Johnson increased the 2030 emissions reduction target to 68% on 1990 levels just before the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, on the way to net zero emissions by 2050. It’s possible this might change under whoever the Conservatives elect to replace him, but in general the political pressure is to cut emissions faster not slower.

Companies are following suit, including oil and gas giants such as Shell which also intends to reach net zero by 2050. For Computer Weekly recently I looked at the software and data analytics required to track and reduce corporate emissions. While digital technology can only go so far – Shell also plans a big shift to renewable energy and to develop carbon capture – one report has suggested technology could cut emissions by a fifth in some sectors. Technology can also increase transparency, as the City of Reno in Nevada demonstrates with its emissions dashboard.

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