When does “zero” not mean “zero”? When an oil corporation, bank or airport are greenwashing with their “net-zero carbon” climate action plans, of course. There are rising concerns that the phrase “net-zero carbon” has been hijacked and devalued by fossil-fuelled corporations. Thus, it was welcome that the UN’s High Champions on Climate, Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz, staged a debate on the issue at the London Climate Action Week. A powerful case was made by James Dyke from the Global Systems Institute at Exeter University that net-zero can be a dangerous trap that lulls the public into thinking that real action is being taken to address the emergency.
Independent 4th July 2021 read more »
THERE’S a lot of grumbling in Edinburgh, as in many cities, about what people see as the war on cars. If you want to hit nerves or set off a blazing row, certainly in Leith where I live, just mention any of the following: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Spaces for People, Controlled Parking Zones and the Trams. It is, in some ways, a kind of road culture war, and what it has in common with other growing culture wars is that it touches on issues of personal freedom. Though, of course, it’s about more than that – because cars have been made so central to how we satisfy many of our needs. Our society is now structured that way. There are good reasons, of course, to urge diligence in getting low traffic plans right – among them, the impact on local business, accessibility for those with disabilities and the possibility of creating alternative rat runs – but often, it seems to me, what people are raging against is a threat to a way of life. The right to own a car also sometimes seems like the equivalent of the US right to bear arms, vital, because for many it offers a cocoon of protection. Cars are wheels with which to flee trouble. They are pleasure too, and a means to escape our everyday lives. They are status and privilege. They allow us to transport things we need. One of the things that interests me about the “war on cars” and road closure debate, is it seems like an example of the problem net-zero leaders, climate-action politicians and climate-change activists are likely to face in the coming years. What we need is a transition, not a war, and, with the planet ever heating, we can’t afford for this to be perceived as one.
Herald 5th July 2021 read more »