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The UK Goes Green


Business English Magazin - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 6/2019 vom 27.09.2019

The United Kingdom has taken a bold1 step to reduce its contribution to2 global climate change within 30 years. Spearheaded3 by former Prime Minister Theresa May, it has set an ambitious new target to reduce its net greenhouse gas4 emissions to zero. BEM’s Michael Gaylord turns off5 the A/C6 and opens the window to take a peek at7 what’s up on the groovy8 green isle.


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Bildquelle: Business English Magazin, Ausgabe 6/2019

In starting the Industrial Revolution, the UK has long been recognised as the global catalyst9 for economic growth on a massive scale10 . It set in motion11 a chain of events12 that has led to anthropogenic13 climate change with ...

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In starting the Industrial Revolution, the UK has long been recognised as the global catalyst9 for economic growth on a massive scale10 . It set in motion11 a chain of events12 that has led to anthropogenic13 climate change with some rather disastrous14 consequences. Now, it can claim to15 be the firstmajor world economy with the legislated16 goal of reducing net carbon emissions17 to zero. On June 26th of this year, a new law, brought forth18 by the country’s Ministry of Energy and Clean Growth, came into force19 after it had passed20 in both Houses of the British Parliament21 . It calls for22 an immediate ramping up23 of action to cut emissions.

Background24

Given the apparent25 difficulty of actually pulling off26 such enterprising27 legislation, you may be asking,why has the UK Government committed to setting such an official target? Well, Industrial Revolution guilt trips28 aside, it turns out29 that several major players in both government and business have concluded that30 taking aggressive steps to cut emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) is not just necessary in order to save the planet, it’s also cost-effective31 . Chris Skidmore, the minister who signed the order paper for the new legislation, pointed out32 , “We’re pioneering33 the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps34 , driving prosperity35 by seizing36 the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy […] we’re putting clean growth at the heart of37 our modern industrial strategy”. Further, besides being able to take a leadership role with such legislation, evidence38 collected from the independent climate advisory39 Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) recommended that the UK set a new legal target of 100 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels – and that it be brought in40 as soon as possible. This spring, a large collection of international companies and investors wrote an open letter41 to May asking her to adopt those recommendations. The letter explained that climate change threatened42 the businesses’ well-being43 and that there was great potential for economic benefit in being an “early mover44 in the development of new low-carbon goods and services.” Apparently, the PM was paying attention45 .

1 bold bəʊldkühn
2 contribution to sth ˌkɒntrɪˈbjuːʃn tə ˈsʌmθɪŋBeitrag zu etw.
3 to spearhead sth tə ˈspɪəhed ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. anführen
4 greenhouse gas ˈɡriːnhaʊs ɡæsTreibhausgas
5 to turn sth off tǝ tɜːn ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɒfetw. abstellen, ausschalten
6 A/C (air conditioning) ˌeɪ ˈsiː eə(r) kənˈdɪʃnɪŋKlimaanlage
7 to take a peek at sth tə teɪk ə piːk ət ˈsʌmθɪŋeinen Blick auf etw. werfen
8 groovy ˈɡruːvisuper, Klasse
9 catalyst ˈkætəlɪstKatalysator
10 on X scale ɒn skeɪlauf einer X Skala
11 to set sth in motion tə set ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɪn ˈməʊʃnetw. in Bewegung bringen
12 a chain of events ə tʃeɪn əv ɪˈventseine Kette von Ereignissen
13 anthropogenic ˌanθrəpəˈdʒenɪkvon Menschen verursacht
14 disastrous dɪˈzɑːstrəsverheerend, katastrophal
15 to claim to do sth tə kleɪm tə du ˈsʌmθɪŋbehaupten, etw. zu tun
16 to legislate sth tə ˈledʒɪsleɪt ˈsʌmθɪŋein Gesetz erlassen
17 carbon emissions ˈkɑːbən iˈmɪʃnzKohlendioxidausstoß
18 to bring sth forth tə brɪŋ ˈsʌmθɪŋ fɔːθetw. hervorbringen
19 to come into force tə kʌm ˈɪntə fɔːsin Kraft treten
20 to pass sth tə paːs ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. verabschieden (Gesetz)
21 house of the parliament ˈhaʊs əv ðə ˈpɑːləməntAbgeordnetenhaus
22 to call for sth tə kɔːl fə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. fordern
23 to ramp sth up tǝ ræmp ʌp ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. intensivieren
24 background ˈbækɡraʊndHintergrund, hier: Kontext
25 apparent əˈpærəntoffensichtlich
26 to pull sth off tə pʊl ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɒfetw. schaffen, zustande bringen
27 enterprising ˈentəpraɪzɪŋkühn, risikofreudig
28 guilt trip ɡɪlt trɪpSchuldgefühl
29 to turn out tə tɜːn aʊtsich herausstellen
30 to conclude that… tə kənˈkluːd ðætschlussfolgern, dass…

31 cost-effective kɒst ɪˈfektɪvkostengünstig, wirtschaftlich
32 to point sth out tə pɔɪnt ˈsʌmθɪŋ aʊtetw. aufzeigen, auf etw. hinweisen
33 to pioneer sth tə ˌpaɪəˈnɪə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋden Weg für etw. bereiten
34 to follow in sb’s footsteps tə ˈfɒləʊ ɪn ˈsʌmbədiz ˈfʊtstepsin jds. Fußstapfen treten
35 prosperity prɒˈsperɪtiWohlstand
36 to seize sth tə siːz ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. ergreifen
37 to put sth at the heart of sth tə pʊt ˈsʌmθɪŋ ət ðə hɑːt əv ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. in den Mittelpunkt stellen
38 evidence ˈevɪdənshier: Befund
39 advisory ədˈvaɪzəriberatend
40 to bring sth in tə brɪŋ ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɪnetw. einführen
41 open letter ˈəʊpən ˈletə(r)offener Brief
42 to threaten sth tə ˈθretn ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɪnetw. bedrohen
43 well-being wel ˈbiːɪŋWohlbefinden
44 early mover ˈɜːli ˈmuːvə(r)frühzeitig Handelnder

What Exactly Does It Mean?

Besides putting an end to46 the old gas boilers used in heating homes and switching from petrol47 or diesel vehicles to48 battery electric ones (BEVs), the new law will likely necessitate49 changes to aviation50 and shipping51 practices. UK leaders, noticing that scientific evidence has pointed to continued increased global warming, felt that policy had not been sufficient52 enough in reducing GHG’s or in limiting temperature increases, which have already risen by one degree compared to pre-industrial53 levels. What’s more, technological advances such as electrification and carbon capture54 and storage55 (CCS) have not moved forward as quickly as had been anticipated56 . The world now sees 43 major CCS projects underway57 , for example – none of which are taking place in the UK. Despite being one of the continent’s most fruitful proven58 sources of offshore wind power, its turbines59 offer only 8 GW (gigawatts) of power, although 30 GW has been promised by the government by 2030.

Now, moving the target from the previously set 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels to 100 percent will likely mean drastic changes in how Brits heat their homes, how they get to and from work and even, perhaps, in what they choose to eat. Is this really feasible?

Critics

Some are skeptical of60 the effectiveness of the new law. First, there are those who predict a monetary61 cost to achieving the target. The UK chancellor62 , Philip Hammond, commented that such a price tag63 is about GBP one tln (cumulative64 ) and would necessitate cuts to public spending65 . May, along with many others, dismissed66 the claims, saying that they ignored the cost of not doing anything, as well as the potential benefits resulting from67 taking action. Second, experts warn that current policies indicate68 meeting the target is not possible. The UK is not even on track69 to hit the intermediate70 goals it set for the period between 2023 and 2032, says the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Third, some environmental scientists say that attaining71 the targets via carbon credits – whereby72 the UK can continue to emit at home so long as it pays for cuts elsewhere73 , and which the government law allows for – puts extra responsibility on developing nations. John Gummer, a former74 British secretary of state for the environment and the head75 of the CCC put it, “It is essential76 that the commitment is comprehensive77 , and achieved without the use of international credits.”

45 to pay attention tə peɪ əˈtenʃnaufmerksam sein, Acht geben
46 to put an end to sth tə pʊt ən end tə ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. ein Ende bereiten
47 petrol ˈpetrəlbenzin
48 to switch from sth to sth tə swɪtʃ frəm ˈsʌmθɪŋ tə ˈsʌmθɪŋvon etw. zu etw. wechseln
49 to necessitate sth tǝ nəˈsesɪteɪt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. erfordern, erforderlich machen
50 aviation ˌeɪviˈeɪʃnLuftfahrt
51 shipping ˈʃɪpɪŋTransport, Verschiffung
52 sufficient səˈfɪʃntgenügend, ausreichend
53 pre-industrial priːɪnˈdʌstrɪəlvorindustriell
54 capture ˈkæptʃə(r)Abscheidung
55 storage ˈstɔːrɪdʒSpeicherung
56 to anticipate tu ænˈtɪsɪpeɪtetw. erwarten, mit etw. rechnen
57 underway ˌəndəˈrweɪim Gange
58 proven ˈpruːvnnachgewiesen
59 turbine ˈtɜːbaɪnTurbine
60 skeptical of sth ˈskeptɪkl əv ˈsʌmθɪŋskeptisch ggü. etw. (US)

Benefits

And what about those pros78 alluded to79 by the likes of May and Skidmore? Well, first of all, let’s take health. Since carbon dioxide80 emissions have reached 400 parts per million for the first time in 2013, the resulting better air quality would, according to scientists, not only lead to decreases in respiratory81 illnesses and deaths, it would increase biodiversity82 . Additionally, there could be other human health benefits: healthier diets, resulting from less meat consumption (meat production is very carbon intensive), it seems, would benefit people, as would less susceptibility to83 heat-related illnesses and deaths.

Finally, there are the economic opportunities from clean growth: first, a shift to84 BEVs could benefit the automotive and chemical battery sector, which would supply85 the materials needed to build batteries. It is believed this can be supported86 domestically87 because the UK Government invests heavily in research on batteries; second, several research institutions in Great Britain are leading in the development of solar photovoltaic88 power, such as Swansea University’s SUNRISE project, which is a joint international collaboration with India and Egypt; third, although it hasn’t yet hosted89 any projects, when it comes to90 the CCS industry, the UK has been sharing its knowledge and providing support to large-scale91 commercial projects and leading an international group that is deploying92 this technology and, given the size of this industry in the nations with which the UK collaborates93 , there appears to be room for much growth94 and employment opportunities here if projects gain traction95 domestically; fourth, there has been participation with other middle and higher income countries in developing innovative biomass96 supply chains97 , as well as hydrogen98 energy collaboration with Canada and with the EU, through EUROfusion, a European project to develop fusion99 power reactors. And perhaps most significantly, in the wind sector, the UK has increased its production substantially – it installed a third of all global capacity in 2017 and projects are being contracted100 across Europe with no or minimal subsidy101 due to102 falling costs, according to the CCC.


@@IN THE WIND SECTOR, THE UK HAS INCREASED ITS PRODUCTION SUBSTANTIALLY – IT INSTALLED A THIRD OF ALL GLOBAL CAPACITY IN 2017.


61 monetary ˈmʌnɪtrifinanziell
62 chancellor ˈtʃɑːnsələ(r)Kanzler(in)
63 price tag praɪs tæɡPreisschild
64 cumulative ˈkjuːmjʊlətɪvgesamt, kumulativ
65 public spending ˈpʌblɪk ˈspendɪŋöffentliche Ausgaben
66 to dismiss sth tə dɪsˈmɪs ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. vom Tisch wischen, etw. abtun
67 to result from sth tǝ rɪˈzʌlt frǝm ˈsʌmθɪŋaus etw. resultieren, sich aus etw. ergeben
68 to indicate sth tu ˈɪndɪkeɪt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. anzeigen, auf etw. hindeuten
69 to be on track tə bi ɒn trækauf dem richtigen Weg sein
70 intermediate ˌɪntəˈmiːdɪətZwischen-
71 to attain sth tu əˈteɪn ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. erreichen, erlangen
72 whereby weəˈbaɪwodurch
73 elsewhere ˌelsˈweə(r)woanders
74 former ˈfɔːmə(r)frühere(r,s)
75 head hedDirektor, Chef
76 essential ɪˈsenʃlunbedingt erforderlich
77 comprehensive ˌkɒmprɪˈhensɪvumfassend
78 pro prəʊProfi
79 to allude to sth tu əˈluːd tǝ ˈsʌmθɪŋauf etw. anspielen
80 carbon dioxide ˈkɑːbən daɪˈɒksaɪdKohlendioxid
81 respiratory rəˈspɪrətriAtem-
82 biodiversity ˌbaɪəʊdaɪˈvɜːsətiArtenvielfalt, Biodiversität
83 susceptibility to sth səˌseptəˈbɪlɪti tuː sʌmθɪŋAnfälligkeit für etw.
84 shift to sth ʃɪft tə ˈsʌmθɪŋWechsel zu etw.
85 to supply sth tə səˈplaɪ ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. liefern
86 to support sth tə səˈpɔːt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. unterstützen
87 domestically dəˈmestɪkliim Inland
88 photovoltaic ˌfəʊtəʊvɒlˈteɪɪkphotovoltaisch
89 to host sth tə həʊst ˈsʌmθɪŋhier: etw. ausführen
90 when it comes to sth wen ɪt kʌmz tə ˈsʌmθɪŋwenn es um etw. geht
91 large-scale lɑːdʒ skeɪlgroß, im großen Maßstab
92 to deploy sth tə dɪˈploɪ ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. einsetzen, anwenden
93 to collaborate tə kəˈlæbəreɪtzusammenarbeiten
94 room for growth ruːm fə ɡrəʊθRaum für Wachstum
95 to gain traction tə ɡeɪn ˈtrækʃnan Boden gewinnen
96 biomass ˈbaɪəʊmæsBiomasse
97 supply chain səˈplaɪ tʃeɪnLieferkette
98 hydrogen ˈhaɪdrədʒənWasserstoff
99 fusion ˈfjuːʒnFusion, Verschmelzung

The UK’s 2050 net zero target marks103 a dramatic change from the previous target of 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by the same year. It will, it seems, require extensive104 manpower105 changes, such as retraining106 and retooling107 programmes and compensation108 schemes for those working in some sectors that will decline109 as others grow to take their place. It may necessitate compensation for some low-income110 and other vulnerable people who may have difficulty adjusting111 . It will, perhaps, ask for sacrificial112 personal commitments by some, as they are encouraged to change their lifestyles. However, the growth carbon-neutral power sector infrastructure, as well as the rapidly113 falling costs of non fossil fuel114 -based115 power, seem to indicate that it is not impossible. In adopting this approach, the UK will be joining several other jurisdictions116 that have already adopted binding117 net zero laws, including New Zealand, California, Norway and Sweden. This determined118 and early action may, in fact, be the surest way to secure a thriving119 , productive and healthy UK in an assuredly120 low-carbon future.

100 to contract sth tə ˈkɒntrækt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. vertraglich vereinbaren
101 subsidy ˈsʌbsədiZuschuss, Subvention
102 due to sth djuː tə ˈsʌmθɪŋaufgrund einer S., wegen etw.
103 to mark sth tə mɑːk ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. kennzeichnen
104 extensive ɪkˈstensɪvweitreichend
105 manpower ˈmænpaʊə(r)Arbeitskräfte
106 to retrain sb tə ˌriːˈtreɪn ˈsʌmbədijdn. umschulen
107 to retool sth tə ˌriːˈtuːl ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. mit neuen Maschinen bestücken
108 compensation ˌkɒmpenˈseɪʃnEntschädigung
109 to decline tə dɪˈklaɪnzurückgehen, abnehmen
110 low-income ləʊ ˈɪŋkʌmeinkommensschwach
111 to adjust tu əˈdʒʌstanpassen, justieren
112 sacrificial ˌsækrɪˈfɪʃlOpfer-
113 rapidly ˈræpɪdlischnell, rasch
114 fossil fuel ˈfɒsl ˈfjuːəlfossiler Brennstoff
115 X-based beɪstX-gestützt, X-basiert
116 jurisdiction ˌdʒʊərɪsˈdɪkʃnRechtsprechung
117 binding ˈbaɪndɪŋbindend, verpflichtend
118 determined dɪˈtɜːmɪndentschlossen
119 thriving ˈθraɪvɪŋflorierend, blühend
120 assuredly əˈʃɔːdlisicherlich