• Rapid need for near zero-carbon lifestyles
  • Need more than 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
  • We need to take drastic steps to avoid ‘a looming catastrophe for humankind’ 

There is now an unquestionable need for a speedy transition to near-zero carbon lifestyles and human activity, according to Mayer Hillman, an expert on climate change.

Writing in the latest issue of Town & Country Planning, the Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association, Dr Hillman says that recent advances in climate science justify questioning the adequacy of the current target of an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Yet this is the UK’s contribution to keeping the global temperature within a safe level.  

Dr Mayer Hillman said:

‘It is incumbent on us all to consider our position with respect to our personal lives and to our professional engagement in facilitating carbon-intensive activities. The implications of our failure to limit global carbon dioxide emissions to what the atmosphere can safely absorb are dire.

‘The time is long over for denial that we are heading for apocalyptic disaster unless drastic steps are taken immediately to reduce further fossil fuel use to close to zero.’

Every fossil fuel-based activity, especially carbon-intensive ones such as high speed, long distance travel by air and rail, adds to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Year-on-year, that then increases the scale of the challenge facing us in preventing the runaway effect of global temperature rise. Alarmingly, there is evidence that that effect may have already passed.

The article highlights analysis – derived from the Global Commons Institute’s Carbon Budget Allocation Tool model and presented in graphical form – used by Sir David King (the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative and Chief Negotiator for the UK Government at UN Climate Negotiations). This shows that it may well be near-impossible to limit the global temperature rise to no more than 2.0°C, let alone the lower more ambitious and aspired one of 1.5°C highlighted at the international summit in Paris last December.

Dr Hillman urges the application of a form of carbon rationing, based on the Global Commons Institute’s ‘Contraction and Convergence’ framework, to avoid the ‘looming catastrophe for humankind’.

Notes to editors

  1. Dr Hillman is a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute
  2. The full article is available from the TCPA. For further information please contact Claire Porter on 07743065875 or [email protected]