DEBATE: With CO2 at record levels, does the UK need to prioritise clean energy?

Gas-Guzzling Vehicles In Line For Higher Motoring Costs
The way businesses are engaging with the environment has reached a tipping point (Source: Getty)

With CO2 at record levels, does the UK need to prioritise clean energy?

Greg Jackson, founder of challenger energy firm Octopus Energy, says YES.

It’s a stark reality that air pollution kills 40,000 people in this country every year. If the bodies lay where the problem did, your morning commute would be grisly.

The scandal is that air pollution is a choice – made by businesses as well as politicians. While Volkswagen was writing software to hide its cars’ appalling emissions during testing, Tesla was pioneering the technologies needed to eliminate transport-based air pollution from cities.

Likewise, the Big Six energy companies blame their price rises on “green taxes”. But forward-thinking, innovative energy companies embraced these taxes as an incentive to invest in renewable technologies and bring costs down. It is why we’re able to offer customers 100 per cent green electricity and gas tariffs hundreds of pounds a year cheaper than they were paying for dirty fuels.

The way businesses are engaging with the environment has reached a tipping point, because people have realised that there really is no excuse for polluting the air we breathe anymore.

Sustainable capitalism is possible, and necessary. The alternative is shameful.

Read more: London's T-Charge: The world's 'toughest emission standard' starts today

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, says NO.

The spike in atmospheric CO2 concentrations seen in the past couple of years has puzzled scientists.

Man-made CO2 emissions have not risen for the last three years, according to UN statistics. Climate scientists believe that the recent CO2 spike is due to the 2015-16 El Nino, which was one of the strongest on record. They claim it was this oceanic warming and its impacts that caused the record increase in CO2 emissions.

Yet the CO2 puzzle remains.

Global energy consumption has been increasing by two per cent per year, yet the annual rate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions has stagnated for the past three years and has not risen much since 2010. Energy efficiency gains alone cannot explain this puzzle. As concentrations of atmospheric CO2 keep rising faster than emissions data reported by governments allow for, there is suspicion that misreporting of data may explain the gap. A Chinese government audit in 2013 found hundreds of coal power firms had simply falsified emissions data.

Read more: DEBATE: Is London’s new ‘T-charge’ on high-polluting vehicles a good idea?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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