News in brief

UK 'off track'

The UK government is ‘off track’ to meet its target of bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 according to the latest report from the government’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

For example, the UK was supposed to be insulating 545,000 lofts a year in 2019. Instead, it insulated just 27,000.

The CCC said the UK must now ‘seize the opportunity to make the COVID-19 recovery a defining moment in tackling the climate crisis’.

Carbon justice

The UK government and the CCC have both been criticised by climate scientist Kevin Anderson.

Many climate models assume we will succeed in using planetary-scale technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

According to Anderson’s recent research, if these highly speculative options don’t materialise, and assuming the UK does get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the country will consume at least twice its ‘fair share’ of the world’s remaining carbon budget (for keeping global warming to ‘well below’ 2°C).

‘Globally, the wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all emissions, the wealthiest 20% for 70% of emissions,’ Anderson told the Guardian.

He went on: ‘If regulations forced the [global] top 10% to cut their emissions to the level of the average EU citizen, and the other 90% made no change in their lifestyles, that would still cut total emissions by a third. If we were serious about this crisis we could do this in a year … but we are not and our emissions just keep rising.’

Bad case

A crowdfunder to support Jeremy Corbyn in a libel case has raised over £300,000 from over 16,000 people in less than five days.

BBC reporter John Ware has instructed a lawyer to sue the former Labour leader over comments Corbyn made in July after the Labour party stopped defending itself in a case brought by Ware and seven former party employees.

Corbyn said that the choice to issue apologies and pay six-figure sums to the eight came from ‘a political decision, not a legal one’. He added: ‘Our legal advice was that the party had a strong defence.’

Good votes

Climate change campaigners scored two victories this July when both Shropshire and Chesterfield councils passed motions in favour of divesting their local government pension schemes (LGPSs) from fossil fuels.

Shropshire council is Tory-controlled so the 42-0 vote there was especially significant. (Though it was symbolic as the council doesn’t directly control its LGPS.)

Meanwhile, East Sussex county council has declared that it will be halving its exposure to fossil fuels, which stood at £137.8m on 31 March. 

Pandemic of hunger

Hunger linked to COVID-19 could be killing 12,000 people every day by the end of the year, according to Oxfam.

Among the reasons are: COVID-related unemployment, travel restrictions, illness among farmers, and reductions in humanitarian aid.

The July Oxfam report says the COVID hunger death toll is ‘potentially more than will die from the disease itself’.

The Oxfam report calls on governments to: fully fund the UN’s COVID-19 humanitarian appeal; expand debt cancellation; support the UN’s call for a global ceasefire; and ‘co-ordinate measures to put fairer, gender-just, resilient and sustainable food systems at the heart of the post-pandemic recovery’.