Energy Secretary Ed Davey is urging the nation to “listen to the scientists” when it comes to assessing and tackling climate change.
Mr Davey made a speech on climate change and science at the Royal Society this afternoon, addressing the AVOID programme, which is a four-year research project, providing scientific and technical analysis to inform UK strategies for avoiding dangerous climate change. He said science drives policy and that when it comes to climate change, it is “important all the rigours of the scientific method are applied”.
The Energy Secretary said: “When the scientists tell us that the evidence proves that smoking is addictive and can cause a whole host of deadly medical conditions from emphysema to heart disease, we believe them… When scientists tell us to that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultra-violet rays can lead to cancer, we believe them, because their views are based on strong evidence. We take precautions, we avoid sunburn, we cover up, use sun cream.
“So if we have this trust in scientific evidence, why would we make an exception when it comes to the science of climate change? When it comes to assessing the health of our planet’s eco-system – we should listen to the scientists – and we should believe them.”
He added 200 years of “good science” – testing our uncertainties and considering the risks – has laid the foundation of what we understand now and that basic physics of climate change is “irrefutable”.
The news comes as the world aims for a 2°C target and according to AVOID, global emissions need to peak in the next few years followed by quick long-term reductions to achieve a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 2°C.
Mr Davey also pointed out the UK’s plans towards tackling climate change by “taking forward the practical policies” that will create a low carbon economy. This would include maximising energy efficiency through the Green Deal scheme, setting up the Green Investment Bank to leverage private sector investment into low carbon and plans for a major reform of the electricity market through the Energy Bill.
He said he plans to be part of “like-minded countries” in the EU over the next year to commit to a 30% emissions reduction target by 2020 and a stronger one for 2030. The UK has aimed to cut at least 80% of carbon emissions b 2050, with latest estimates showing a 7% fall in 2011 compared to 2010. Mr Davey added: “If we really are wrong about climate change, we will have created a better world for nothing.”
The AVOID programme consists of leading UK research institutes, including the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Walker Institute, Grantham Institute and the Tyndall Centre.