Brexit Britain reveals ambitious plan for low carbon growth

Big Ben photo
CC BY 2.0 Phil Dolby

"The grownups have finally won," says one commentator. Maybe the U.S. could learn something...

Last year, in the wake of the stunning Brexit vote in the UK and the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the United States, there were dark murmurings in some quarters of a renaissance in climate denial, obstructionism and fossil fueled short-termism.

And there's no doubt, damage has been done.

But in the US, we've seen states, corporations, cities and private individuals meet Trump's Paris sabotage with a renewed commitment to their own climate efforts. And now in the UK, it seems a long-running internal battle within the ruling Conservative party may finally be breaking in favor of climate action.

At least, that seems to be the broad takeaway from the government's recently revealed Clean Growth Plan which, among other items, commits:

— £2.5 billion to support low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021
— £3.6 billion for energy efficiency upgrades to a million homes
— £1 billion to support the take-up of ultra low emission vehicles
— a promise to develop "one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world"
— a reaffirmation of the commitment to phase out "unabated" coal for electricity by 2025, and to ban new conventional petrol and diesel car sales and vans by 2040

It's a pretty impressive list. Yes, environmentalists are concerned about details including a lack of explicit support for solar, as well as a relative lack of emphasis on onshore wind. But there's no doubt that once again the broad direction of travel has been set. Now we can get to work arguing about the best way to get there.

Environmental journalist Damian Carrington did not mince his words in describing the launch for The Guardian:

"The grownups have finally won and everyone in the UK, from those in cold homes to those on polluted streets and in flooded towns, will benefit."

Now, the question becomes, when will we be able to say the same about the United States?

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