Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the global community in the 21st century. Scientists believe that the world is heating up rapidly and that this will cause changes to our weather and climate.
Scotland is taking a lead on tackling climate change with the Climate Change (Scotland) Act which commits Scotland to the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Our country has responded positively to the challenge and is seeking to be a world leader in harnessing renewable technology - creating jobs, helping the economy and demonstrating leadership on the international stage.
However, if we are to meet the targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 then it will require everyone to play their part. This section explains some of the ways that individuals and schools can engage children and young people in hands-on activities to tackle climate change to help them develop new skills and support their development as responsible global citizens.
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When I visited the House of Lords’ minister, Lord Marland, at the Climate Change Department a couple of years ago, I asked him and the Department’s chief number-cruncher, Professor David Mackay (neither a climate scientist nor an economist, of course) to show me the Department’s calculations detailing just how much “global warming” that might otherwise occur this century would be prevented by the $30 billion per year that the Department was committed to spend between 2011 and 2050 – $1.2 trillion in all.
There was a horrified silence. The birds stopped singing. The Minister adjusted his tie. The Permanent Secretary looked at his watch. Professor Mackay looked as though he wished the plush sofa into which he was disappearing would swallow him up entirely.
Eventually, in a very small voice, the Professor said, “Er, ah, mphm, that is, oof, arghh, we’ve never done any such calculation.” The biggest tax increase in human history had been based not upon a mature scientific assessment followed by a careful economic appraisal, but solely upon blind faith. I said as much. “Well,” said the Professor, “maybe we’ll get around to doing the calculations next October.”
Now this Department of Energy and Climate
The UK accounts for 1.5% of global business-as-usual CO2 emissions. At an officially-estimated cost of $1.2 trillion by 2050, or $834 billion after inter-temporal discounting at the minimum market rate of 5%, the Climate Change Act aims to eradicate 80% of these emissions. So just 1.2% of global emissions would be abated even if the policy were to succeed in full.
Business-as-usual CO2 concentration, as the average of all six IPCC emission scenarios, would be 514 ppmv in 2050. A full and successful reduction of UK emissions by 80% over that period would reduce that concentration to – wait for it – 512.5 ppmv. This dizzying reduction of 1.5 ppmv over 40 years would have the effect of abating 0.008 K of the 1.05 K of warming that the IPCC would otherwise have expected to see by 2050.
The UK policy’s mitigation cost-effectiveness – the cost of abating just 1 Kelvin of warming if every nation pursued the UK’s policy with the same cost-ineffectiveness – works out at $108 trillion per Kelvin abated.
So, I hope that conscientious and conforming schoolteachers everywhere, urged to do their bit by such as Education Scotland, will take a little time to explain to their pupils just what kind of difference their sacrifices of time and energy are expected to make using the projections of the IPCC with regard to CO2 and its impact on global warming. Then I hope their pupils will regard them with the contempt they deserve for their conformance to fatuous climate-alarm-driven policies. They might even start doubting such statements such as ‘the world is heating up rapidly’ and ‘climate change is one of the biggest challenges’. Let us hope so. But let us also hope that their teachers get there ahead of them.