The historical influence of the UK
The following map shows the extent of the British Empire Large parts of it were still under UK rule only 100 years ago. Our influence was obviously global, with the rest of the world intimately linked in trade, treaties and competition (e.g. British opium, grown in India and traded for Chinese tea). We were very rich, and a lot of that came from our coal-fuelled Industrial Revolution. Whilst this is all history, it has not been forgotten.
I would argue from this, and the fact that our emissions are still relatively high, that the UK has a relatively large influence when it comes to Climate Change mitigation.
- If we do not meet our emission targets, we give a big excuse the rest of the world not do their bit. We had our cake and ate it. There is likely to be resentment if we do not do our fair share of the work now.
- On the flip-side, memories of us as global leaders have not completely faded. We have the opportunity to lead by example, and many parts of the world will value our help and expertise.
- If we meet our emission targets, we give our politicians and diplomats a suitable platform to stand on, to try and persuade the rest of the world to meet them too. We can only expect the rest of the world to go as far as us.
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