At the recent COP26 conference, the nations of the world attempted to placate the public and sure up their own plans regarding the looming climate crisis.
A big part of the conference involved grand and rather showy displays of financial planning. It goes without saying that efforts to tackle climate change are going to need some incredibly robust financial backing. Money, after all, is one of the reasons why so many big fossil fuel guzzling corporations and irresponsible extraction organizations keep doing what they do despite the long term damage it will cause. There needs to be a huge financial reset in order to incentivize real change. Whether this can happen in a free-market economy is anybody’s guess.
The funding claims made by governments represented at COP26 certainly seemed far reaching. The UK government, for instance, pledged to commit 100 billion dollars to climate finance every year. It also laid out a plan to steer private financial investment towards climate change tackling projects.
Where might this money go in the UK? Where is climate finance already being put to use? This article identifies several key strands of environmental funding.
The most basic small-scale funding involves the incentivization of individual homeowners to be more climate friendly. One of the ways this is done is by funding environmentally friendly home modifications such as solar panels and double-glazed windows. Homeowners can apply to get funding for projects that increase the energy efficiency of their properties. This will not make a huge dent on the climate disaster, but it is hoped that it will start the ball rolling in terms of making British homes less damaging to the environment. The financial benefits of taking on this funding can be huge for homeowners in the long term – it will drastically reduce their energy bills and the effects will be seen immediately.
The production of electricity is one of the most polluting industrial processes. A great deal of the energy in the UK is generated by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. This process releases vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the air.
The UK is investing heavily in switching to a renewable energy model. This involves the ditching of fossil fuels in favour of wind, tidal, hydroelectric and other renewable sources of energy. The government is aiming at 100 percent renewable energy production by 2035, though as with all grand statements in politics, this goal is best looked at through a sceptical lens. As a coastal nation, the UK has great untapped potential as a producer of tidally generated electricity. The kinetic – and importantly predictable – power of the tides can be used to drive huge turbines in much the same way as a hydroelectric dam. This kind of energy production method is already in use in countries like Norway, which have similarly long coastlines.
Combustion powered transportation modes such as cars release a great deal of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as they burn fossil fuels. Relieving Britain’s reliance upon combustion engine transport is the aim of a great deal of funding. The electrification of rail lines, the introduction of hybrid busses and the incentivization of electric car purchases have all received a huge quantity of investment.
Public transport infrastructure is rightly seen as one of the main areas that needs to be improved if people are to stop using individual cars on the roads of the UK. The UK has an antiquated and fractured public transport system that is too expensive for many people, even though they must use it in their daily lives. Further government subsidization of rail travel is necessary in order to break the stranglehold of the internal combustion engine.
As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the United Kingdom has a duty to provide developing nations with some aid to fight climate change. Climate change adversely affects equatorial and developing nations. These nations regularly face floods, droughts and extreme weather conditions as the direct result of climate change. The UK government has pledged to increase foreign climate finance aid by 11.6 billion dollars. Whether this actually happens will depend on successive government policies. In a rather sneaky and backhanded move, the money provided to developing nations to fight climate change has been taken out of the pre-existing aid budget. Foreign aid is a sensible investment. Climate change is a global issue, and all nations must have the tools to fight it if there is to be any change of slowing it down.