By Lydia O’Kane
A new report launched on Wednesday, as the COP24 climate talks continue in Katowice, Poland, found that Denmark and Britain are the top countries when it comes to taking action to fight climate change. Denmark has decarbonised its electricity sector, moving away from coal, installing renewables and reducing fossil fuel subsidies by 90 percent over the last decade. Britain, meanwhile, plans to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2025, although it has lagged behind in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. The report by researchers from Britain's Imperial College, noted that coal has provided two-fifths of the world's electricity for the past 30 years, barely changing over the last decade as the falling share in most developed countries is being countered by growing electricity demand in coal-reliant Asian countries.
Attending the COP24 summit is a delegation from CAFOD, the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Speaking just before his departure by coach with supporters, in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint, the agency’s Director of Advocacy, Neil Thorns said, “I think if you look at the signs of the times around us; if you look at the number of floods that we have seen. We’ve seen fires; we’ve seen higher temperature rises, all in this year. There’s been consistent records broken across this year. I think if you look at the science, the science report which was released by the IPCC scientists; the inter-governmental panel of scientists, they couldn’t have been clearer on the urgency of this issue”.
The switch to renewables
Asked if there was a fear factor with regard to switching to renewable energy and if so, can it be overcome? Thorns said, it can be, and cited the UK as an example of a country committed to the use of renewables. “The real question is, I think when it comes to the question of renewables and the switch; so much of our economies are based on fossil fuels… it’s a shift both in terms of attitude and the economics around it and it’s a shift in terms of, there are some very vested interests who want to keep us using and exploiting, if you like, the earth’s resources. He added, that from a scientific, economic or even a moral point of view, the shift to renewables “is actually a good one; it makes sense for all of our interests, whether you’re in a rich country; whether you’re in a poor country.”
The Director of Advocacy said that CAFOD will be making its presence felt at this COP24 summit by calling for action for not only this generation but, also for future generations. “Our partners”, he underlined, “are already seeing the impacts of climate change on the ground and we know that the message that we need to bring there is (A) ambition, so we need action and we need it quickly; we need money”, adding that rich countries need to commit to the levels of funding they have pledged.