Kevin Anderson & Dan Calverley: Prime minister Boris Johnson this week announced a ‘10-point plan’ for a ‘green industrial revolution’, intended to create jobs and make ‘strides towards net zero by 2050’. Decarbonising road transport features heavily, with measures to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Plus around £2.4 billion of new funding for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, uptake and battery development. Although at first glance the announcement may sound welcome, in reality it is a delaying tactic. Irrespective of the praise heaped on the ‘plan’, climate change requires immediate action, not a promise for action in ten years’ time. Waiting until 2030 will lock in emissions from personal transport for two more decades. It also risks locking out low-carbon alternatives to the private car that might otherwise have delivered on the UK’s Paris Agreement derived carbon budget. The plan passes the buck of mitigating climate change to another future government, several electoral cycles down the line. More importantly, it obliges our children to remove colossal quantities of (our) carbon directly from the atmosphere or attempt to live with the consequences of dangerous climate change. The 10-point plans sits alongside the announcement in August 2020 of over £27 billion investment in road projects. Far from being a ‘green revolution’, this is simply business as usual, where the predict-and-provide paradigm of car ownership and road-building go hand-in-hand. Even with a major shift to renewables, zero-carbon energy will remain a scarce resource for years to come. Therefore, a ‘triage’ approach is necessary; the most urgent, non-negotiable cases go to the front of the queue for zero-carbon electricity. As such, it is neither a wise nor progressive policy to use such a scarce resource to transport a 70kg driver in a 1.5 tonne car a few kilometres to an out-of-town supermarket or to make the school run. A better option would be to shift away from cars, including EVs, as the default mode for moving around within our towns and cities. To deliver immediate cuts in emissions consistent with a 2°C-derived budget, the UK Government could set a maximum emission standard of 90gCO2/km for all new cars from 2022.
Ecologist 24th Nov 2020 read more »
Angus Satow has detailed how Labour’s 2020 green recovery proposals pale in comparison to the green industrial revolution proposed ahead of the 2019 general election. After the grassroots organising of Labour for a Green New Deal and policy development of Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour has a suite of oven-ready policies ripe to be deployed amid a pandemic like this. Instead, Starmer’s Labour have shied away from the ambition of economic transformation.
Ecologist 20th Nov 2020 read more »