On 12 December 2015, a UN climate summit in Paris ended in an historic agreement which saw 195 countries, plus the EU, sign up to the first universal, legally binding deal to tackle global warming.
The agreement, which David Cameron described as “a huge step forward in helping to secure the future of our planet”, commits countries to try and keep global temperature rises “well below” 2C, a level at which experts agree the worst effects of climate change would be felt.
The Paris agreement was the outcome of the 21st conference of the parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which began on 30 November last year.
So, what’s the likely impact of the Paris agreement on us in the UK? It’s true that we already have a Climate Change Act in place which legally commits us to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050, and the government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advises on the policies required to meet this target.
The new agreement commits us to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5C, however, a goal which experts agree is ambitious and could well require the UK to take stronger action than that already outlined under our Climate Change Act. The CCC has already said it will be reviewing the Paris deal to see if the UK needs to increase its targets.
Either way, the agreement will mean that a continued push towards clean, renewable energy sources is crucial for all UK business and domestic users.