If there is one issue that polarises opinion and points of view in 2014, it is international climate change. While it is widely accepted that action is required to ensure that the impact of global warming is minimised, many countries disagree on the best course of action and their own unique role in effecting change.
Australia is the latest nation to risk damaging its reputation on this issue, after failing to tow the international line in relation to managing greenhouse gases and emissions. Unless its governing bodies rethink their inaction and look to implement change, there is a chance that they may become isolated in the global climate change debate.
Climate Challenges in the UK
Australia is not the only country facing issues in relation to climate change, however, as the UK is also encountering significant challenges. While the nation may have made great strides in the last decade through the implementation of incentive schemes and the efforts of companies such as the Mark Group in making these accessible to the general public, recent discussions have suggested that the Government may be set to weaken climate targets for Britain. This not only defies international sentiment, but it also flies in the face of some staggering data sets.
To begin with, the UK has just experienced the wettest winter in its history. This triggered significant flooding in southern coastal regions of the UK at the turn of the year, and has encouraged scientists to deliver stark warnings concerning further downpours in 2014 and beyond. The general public are clearly alarmed by these developments, with 23% of British residents suggesting that the natural environment is the single most important issue facing the nation at present. Despite this, the Coalition are continuing to neglect the need for urgent action on global warming.
The Liberal Democrats vs. the Coalition Government: The War on Climate Change
One political party that is opposed to this ethos is the Liberal Democrats, who despite declining popularity are determined to use their role in the Coalition to initiate debate and climate change reform. Leading politicians within the party have declared that they will fight the next general election with this as one of their three main manifesto bullet points, as they encourage the government to make good on their previous carbon-cutting targets. They are also keen to ensure that the UK meets its aim of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050, which was established by the influential Climate Change Act of 2008.
Given that the Liberal Democrats were influencing in shaping and creating this act, it stands to reason that they should continue to back climate change reform. Their compelling argument revolves around the fact that the political approach to carbon emissions should be determined by scientific evidence and research rather than short-term political expediency, and this is a lesson that the leaders of nations such as the UK and Australia should heed if they are to comply with international law and legislation.