On the 17th November, the UK ratified the Paris Agreement which is an aggregation of Governments from 100+ countries that have the joint aim of keeping global warming below 2°C through enforcing and encouraging the use of low-carbon, renewable energy and reducing the dependency on fossil fuels that are damaging to the environment.
After Brexit was decided in June this year, there was much speculation as to whether any existing recommendations and decisions to sign the Paris Agreement would remain in place. Theresa May’s decision to go ahead with the agreement has been met with much approval from green parties, campaigners and charities who had previously expected the new Prime Minister to retreat from the UK’s strong position in previously reducing carbon emissions, to instead recreating a completely new energy efficiency strategy that could have potentially been much less direct and effective. Reports suggested that the shocking Brexit vote would convert the UK’s climate change strategy from being focused on EU policies to US policies, which are thought to be considerably less effective, especially now that the US presidential election ended up with a victory for Mr Trump, who’s focus on Oil and Shale drilling, and reliance on fossil fuels significantly contrasts any aims for renewables and low-carbon energy.
By joining the Paris Agreement, May has opened up the potential for cutting carbon emissions, creating jobs and reducing bills for households in the future. However, this news doesn’t quite fall in line with other energy related laws, legislation and ideas that have been recently passed. For example, Fracking for natural gas has been given the go ahead in both Nottinghamshire and Lancashire. Additionally, the reopening of Eggborough and Fiddler’s Ferry coal plants this winter for assistance during peak power demand highlights the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels. This move towards unearthing natural gas by drilling onshore, and making use of old coal power stations paints a completely paradoxical picture of the UK’s energy policies, which means the UK’s future energy mix is fairly uncertain.
However, others have observed that the cut down in wells and drills along the UKCS (UK Continental Shelf) provides some drive to become eventually less dependent on fossil fuels, though as it stands, the UK relies on a chunk of gas-fired power on a daily basis. The Contracts for Difference scheme should come into effect from early 2017 indicating a fresh approach to cleaner energy. Additionally the phase out of coal fired power by 2025 encourages the building and implementation of renewable energy sources for the UK.
Sources: BBC News, Gov.co.uk, Npower (RWE), SSE, Engie, National Grid, the Guardian,