The Climate Secretary, Amber Rudd, will face criticism for the UK’s apparent hypocrisy when she appears at the COP21 Climate Summit, in Paris on Monday.
The country has come under fire in recent weeks as many environmentalists and policy analysts claim that the UK’s impressive rhetoric does not match up with the policies being implemented back home.
Most ministers have said that the government is still focused on reducing CO2 emissions, and David Cameron’s passionate speech at the summit was thought to have impressed many of the delegates present. However, George Osborne has spent the past few months announcing changes to policy that many have claimed will negatively impact the environment through a rise in greenhouse gas production.
One of the most recent examples of the chancellor doing this was his decision to do away with a £1bn fund for the development of carbon capture technology. The technology is still in its infancy and aims to capture carbon before it is released into the atmosphere. It had previously been viewed as one of the key pillars of the UK’s environment policy.
Friends of the Earth representative, Craig Bennett, said:
“The government is totally hypocritical on climate change.
“George Osborne’s anti-environmental policy decisions on energy fly the opposite way to the low-carbon route the vast majority of other countries are pursuing.
“There is a total mismatch between his policies and the warm words of David Cameron. The reality is that on energy policy the chancellor is effectively prime minister already.”
The United Kingdom has also been heavily criticised for the lack of financial aid that it is willing to give to developing countries as they try and reduce their emissions through new technology.
At first, Britain had been praised for doubling its funding towards this cause. However, it was then revealed that this money would be siphoned away from the regular foreign aid budget.
A representative of the group Least Developed Countries in Paris said:
“The Copenhagen climate meeting made it clear – climate finance should be new and additional funds, which means it should not come from foreign aid – which is meant for development.
“Think of it like building a road. You use the aid money for the road, but if temperatures rise due to climate change, you will have to thicken the tarmac, which is an extra cost.
“If you build a road which is liable to flood due to rising sea levels, you will need to build in flood protection, which is again additional to development. It’s that simple.”
A spokesperson for the DECC (The Department of Energy and Climate Change) said that Amber Rudd had been right to take an axe to green subsidies in order to prioritise other aims.
She said: “We are committed to getting a global deal in Paris that will help prevent the worst impacts of climate change and grow the low-carbon economy.”
“Amber Rudd stated the priority is to keep the lights on and bills as low as possible; as well as to reduce the carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.”
However many are sceptical of this, and it is believed by many that the DECC’s decisions are actually being made by the Treasury as a way of saving money at the expense of the environment.
The DECC responded to questions over their approach to CCS (Climate Capture and Storage) by saying:
“Government has not taken this decision lightly. Government was clear that this capital was subject to affordability. This was a tight financial settlement and difficult decisions have had to be made.
“CCS has a potential role in the long-term de-carbonisation of the UK and the government will engage closely with bidders on the implication of this decision for them.”