Energy policy shifts needed to combat extreme weather, British adviser says

The British government believes global warming caused by increased carbon emissions from human activity has serious implications for the world, a senior British scientific adviser told an audience at the University of Houston Monday.

Carbon pollution is driving some global weather disruptions as temperatures rise around the world and may have severe consequences in the next 50 to 100 years, said Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser for the British government.

Without mitigating the increase in carbon pollution — with options such as nuclear, carbon capture and wind power — extreme weather events could have severe effects, including on global infrastructure and supply chains, he said.

Walport noted that Britain’s 2008 Climate Change Act requires the nation to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2050. The nation also has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 34 percent by 2020.

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National energy reforms open the door to about $175 billion worth of renewable energy investments in Britain’s electricity market.

However, such ambitious policy decisions are difficult to implement amid lingering disputes about climate change, he said.

“Some of those who dispute climate change do so because they don’t like the implied public policy responses,” Walport said.

While individual storms, like Hurricane Sandy, cannot be linked specifically to climate change, British scientists and the British government believe that human-induced climate change contributed to about half of extreme weather events last year.