Improving Carbon Management to Mitigate essay

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Figure 3. Central England Temperature

Note: Blue bars indicates changes in CET annual values during the period 1877 to 2006 relative to the average over the 1961-90 baseline period (about 9.5 "C). Error bars enclose the 95% confidence range and the red line highlights decadal variations.

Source: UK Climate Projections 2011 at http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk / content/view/751/500/

As shown in Figure 3 above, the Central England temperature (CET) has increased by approximately one degree Celsius since 1980; in fact, the year 2006 was the warmest on record (Central England temperature 2010). Some salient trends represented by these historic weather patterns include:

1. Following a period of relative long-term stability for most of the 20th century, CET has increased by about a degree Celsius since the 1980s. This is a more rapid rise than that of the global average land-surface temperature over the same period, and considerably faster than that of the global mean temperature.

2. The annual mean CET of 10.82°C in 2006 was 1.35 ± 0.18°C above the 1961 -- 1990 average, and was the warmest in the 348-year series.

3. The fifteen warmest calendar years in the series are, in order: 2006, 1990/1999, 1949, 2002, 1997, 1995, 1989/2003, 1959/2004, 1733/1834/1921 and 2005. Several of these high ranking years are too long ago to have had any significant contribution from man-made warming. This reflects the large natural variability of climate over a small area such as that of the CET.

4. The years 2006 and 2007 have seen a number of records in the CET monthly series broken.

5. July 2006 was the warmest month since observations began, with a mean temperature of 19.7°C; September 2006 was the warmest September; Autumn 2006 was the warmest Autumn; and April 2007 was the warmest April (Central England temperature 2010, 3).

Besides the calendar-year averages described above, monthly CET data set has also been organised into successive 12-month rolling averages that reveal some other clear trends. Based on the amplified analysis using these data, the year-long period ending in April 2007 was also the warmest such period on record (Central England temperature 2010). In sharp contrast to the meticulous data collection that has taken place in Central England since 1880, there has been no corresponding effort has been made for regions other than Central England to attribute recent trends to specific causes; however, the same general warming patterns that are evident in Figure 3 are also discernible in Figure 4 below, suggesting the global warming process in the UK is not localized to Central England, but rather has become a regionalized problem (Temperature in Scotland & Northern Ireland 2010).

Figure 4. Annual mean temperature averaged over the Scottish Mainland, 1800-2006.

Note: The red line emphasises decadal variations

Source: UK Climate Projections 2011 at http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/content / view/753/500/

In response to these trends, the UK government has taken some preliminary steps to help reduce the short- and long-term threats represented by continuing emission of carbon, and these are discussed further below.

3.

Reduction of carbon dioxide emission by climate change bill

The Climate Change Act of 2008 established emission reduction targets for 2020 (reduction of 34% in greenhouse gas emissions) and for 2050 (reduction of at least 80% in greenhouse gas emissions), and introduced five-yearly carbon budgets that are legally enforceable in order to assure those targets are achieved (a low-carbon UK 2011). At present, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is collaborating with other governmental agencies to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy through the UK; a concomitant aspect of this legislation was to ensure that the UK benefits from the business and employment opportunities represented by the changes in global climate patterns in recent years (a low-carbon UK 2011).

4.

Planning and policy for reduction carbon dioxide emission

Other recent planning and policy initiatives taken by the UK government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions include the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC). The scheme is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme that affects all UK organisations that use more than 6,000 MWh of electricity (equivalent to an annual electricity bill of about £500,000) a year (Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme Elements 2011). The CRC became effective in April 2010 and is designed to reduce UK carbon emissions in substantive ways that are not addressed by other legislation (CRC Scheme Elements 2011). The main goal of the scheme is to reduce emissions in the commercial sectors in the UK that are not energy intensive as a way of augmenting the Climate Change Agreements as well as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme because these target energy-intensive organisations primarily (CRC Scheme Elements 2011). The CRC scheme consists of the three primary elements as described in Table 1 below:

Table 1

Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme Elements

CRC Element

Description

Emissions reporting requirement

Participants in the CRC will be required to measure and report their carbon emissions each year pursuant to a codified set of formal measurement rules with the first annual report of emissions being due July 2011.

A new carbon price

Beginning in 2012, participants in the scheme will purchase allowances from the UK Government on an annual basis that are sufficient to address their emissions for the previous year. In other words, participants that reduce their emissions can reduce their corresponding costs under the CRC.

There are two important changes about buying allowances that the Government announced in October 2010:

(a) the money raised from the sale of allowances will be retained by the Government rather than recycled back to CRC participants.

(b) the first sale of allowances to cover emissions in fiscal year 2011/12 will be in 2012 rather than 2011.

The price of allowances has not yet been determined following the changes announced in October 2010; however, the intent prior to that announcement was to sell allowances at a fixed price of £12 per tonne CO2 through fiscal year 2012/13, with a floating market price thereafter.

Ranking of participants

A publicly available CRC performance league table will show how each participant is performing compared to others in the scheme. If an organisation is a good carbon performer, the league table will help give a significant boost to its organisation's reputation, demonstrating its success in cutting emissions; however, because of the changes announced in October 2010, there is likely to be no direct financial benefit under the CRC from an improved position in the league table.

An organisation's league table position each year will be determined by performance in three metrics:

* Early action metric: 50% of this score is based on what percentage of an organisation's electricity and gas supplies is covered by voluntary automatic meter readings (AMR) in the year to 31 March 2011. The other half is based on the proportion of the CRC emissions certified under the Carbon Trust Standard or an equivalent scheme.

* Absolute metric: The percentage change in an organisation's emissions, compared to the average of the previous five years (or number of years available until 2014/15).

* Growth metric: the percentage change in emissions per unit turnover, compared to the average of the previous five years (or number of years available until 2014/15).

The weighting of these three metrics will change over time. In the first year, early action will count for 100% of your organisation's league table score. Over the first few years of the scheme, the early action metric will gradually fade in importance until the absolute and growth metrics receive 75% and 25% weightings respectively in 2014/15 and thereafter.

Source: Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme Elements, UK Carbon Trust 2011, 4-5

Even though the CRC scheme is targeted at non-intensive energy sectors, the aggregate amount of carbon mitigation that is involved among these entities alone is substantial. For instance, the CRC reports that, "The sectors targeted by the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme are responsible for more than 10 per cent of current UK carbon dioxide emissions; the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme seeks to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from these targeted organisations by a minimum of 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2020" (CRC 2011, 3).

5.

Change proposed

History has shown time and again that people frequently fail to take action until they receive a life-threatening wake-up call, and the threat represented by global climate change is certainly no exception. For instance, according to Sutton, "People do not prepare for events that can be envisioned for the future but may not hold immediate risk. [There are] a number of chronic social obstacles to disaster mitigation and preparation including cost, diminished perception of risk, uncertainty, and unfounded assumptions of far-off recurrence (2009, 1115). Given the clear and present danger represented by global climate change, it is time for a call to action on the part of all stakeholders, which of course means everyone in the UK, that will require a "what's in it for me" analysis. This critically vital goal can be achieved in part through the initiatives described…[continue]

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