By Louise Gray
Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world
Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.
In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.
As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.
In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.
This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.
Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods
He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.
This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.
“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face,” he said.
The last round of talks in Copenhagen last year ended in a weak political accord to keep temperature rise below the dangerous tipping point of 2C(3.6F).
This time 194 countries are meeting again to try and make the deal legally binding and agree targets on cutting emissions.
At the moment efforts are focused on trying to get countries to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 relative to 1990 levels.