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UK’s icy misery: unlucky or self-inflicted?

Arctic air is streaming into the UK, gripping it in one of the coldest and most chaotic starts to winter in a century. Is this a random natural twitching of the weather? Or have they helped bring it on themselves by 250 years of world-record climate pollution?

Our planet’s climate crisis is fuelled by the cumulative amount of fossil fuel CO2 that humanity has spewed into our air and oceans. Just 9 of the earth’s 185 nations are responsible for 70% of this climate-disrupting, fossil-fuel pollution. The UK is one of these “Dirty 9” – and Canada, sadly, is another.

When you line up these “Dirty 9” by cumulative climate pollution per person, the people of the UK have been the most climate damaging of them all.

As the Irish Times reported Monday, all that carbon may be making their winter even worse:

THE COLD spell Ireland and the rest of northern Europe has been experiencing may, paradoxically, be the result of global warming, rather than evidence it is not happening, according to the most recent scientific research.

The Journal of Geophysical Research suggested a link between diminishing levels of sea ice in the Arctic and an increased probability of harsh winters across Europe, saying these “do not conflict the global warming picture, but rather supplement it”.

Folks interested in the climate details can find more in George Monbiot’s latest article “Cold Burn”, as well as my post last week “Overheating Canada helps freeze Europe”.


In their favour, the people and governments of the UK are starting to take responsibility for their climate pollution levels. Canadians however are not.

  • UK works to meet its Kyoto promise. Canada isn’t trying.
  • UK emissions are below their 1990 levels. Canada’s have surged to 127% of our 1990 levels.
  • UK emissions per person have fallen to 9 tonnes. Canada’s have risen to 18 tonnes per person.


What does that mean for people living in the UK and Canada?

As Bill Gates said in his latest TED talk “Innovating to Zero!”, the climate science is very clear that we must get to ZERO emissions by 2050.

While the UK may be suffering from past climate pollution transgressions, their efforts in recent years have left the folks in the UK with only half as much work left to do as we Canadians have. The people of the UK are running towards the finish line, while we are still running in the wrong direction.

The sooner we Canadians start cutting our dangerous climate emissions, the less we will suffer from both climate disruptions and economic disruptions in coming decades.

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