Kevin Anderson: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first major report 28 years ago. This watershed document described the ominous implications of escalating emissions and the scale of the challenge in reversing this seemingly inexorable trend. Today, despite four further IPCC reports, 23 rounds of international negotiations, and thousands of climate change papers and conferences, annual emissions are more than 60% higher than in 1990, and are still rising. Put simply, the international community has presided over a quarter of a century of abject failure to deliver any meaningful reduction in absolute global emissions. Certainly the rhetoric of action is ramping up. Yet those who talk confidently about renewables, nuclear and “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) eventually driving down emissions in decades to come are guilty of misunderstanding the fundamental science of climate change. Imagine a space where climate academics could be truly honest with policy makers about their analysis and conclusions, and where disagreements were discussed openly and constructively. Add to this, vociferous engagement by younger generations, listened to by a new breed of policy makers playing a straighter bat. Imagine then an enlightened “quantitative easing” transferring resources not to banks, but to mobilise a rapid transformation in energy infrastructure, retrofitting existing buildings, decarbonising transport and constructing zero-carbon power stations. A reformist political agenda could begin to emerge, facilitating secure, local and high-quality employment, eradicating fuel poverty, improving urban air quality, driving innovation and eliminating carbon emissions. Stretch the imagination a little further to embed a democratic media reporting on this transformation to an increasingly savvy and responsive audience. Under such conditions, an alternative progressive paradigm could be ushered in – and soon. Certainly, none of this looks likely, but who predicted the near-collapse of the Western banking system, the emergence of Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn, the rise and early demise of the Arab Spring, or even the plummeting price of renewables?
Independent 21st March 2018 read more »