Instead of launching a green recovery, the Budget has destroyed Britain’s credibility at Cop26. Just as the government refused to listen to the warnings about the need to prepare for a global pandemic, Sunak has stuck his fingers in his ears and ignored the warnings from his advisers. Just think of the dire context in which it was presented by Rishi Sunak: we had just heard this warning from the head of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, when addressing the Association of British Insurers on the unfolding climate emergency: “The net effects will collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society.” Bevan was preceded by a report by Professor Dasgupta on the economics of biodiversity, commissioned by the chancellor’s own Treasury, which opened starkly: “We are facing a global crisis. We are totally dependent upon the natural world. It supplies us with every oxygen-laden breath we take and every mouthful of food we eat. But we are currently damaging it so profoundly that many of its natural systems are now on the verge of breakdown.” But did the chancellor heed the warnings? In a word – no. On the ecological emergency, Sunak presented only a devastating silence, just like the deafening silence of a rainforest after a wildfire has swept through. Sunak froze fuel duty again – it has been frozen each year since March 2011 – as he caved yet again into the motor industry’s “Fair Fuel UK” lobby. But this really equates to de-facto cuts in fuel duty – because if you do not increase fuel duties in line with inflation, you actually impose a real-term cut. This adds to the £110 billion in fuel tax cuts Fair Fuel UK claim to have won since 2010. And it comes at the same time as train fares are increasing above inflation, despite surface transport being the single largest source of UK domestic carbon emissions.
Independent 6th March 2021 read more »
Michael Mann: we’re finally seeing the collective will to act [on climate change]. The real question is: Precisely where are we going? Two paths seemingly diverge in the horizon of potential ways forward. One path is the technocratic one. It envisions climate action as a mere engineering problem. We need only unleash the all-powerful free market and technological innovation and leave them do their thing. In the past, Bill Gates, whose own book on climate change hit the stands, seemed to favor that path. Gates has in the past argued that a technological “miracle” is necessary to address the climate crisis, and has funded research into risky “geoengineering” schemes. These include a relatively inert but prohibitively expensive proposition known as “direct air capture” (sucking carbon pollution back out of the atmosphere), and considerably more perilous in my view “solar radiation management”—a euphemism for schemes that typically involve injecting huge amounts of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to form a reflective blanket that might help cool Earth back down. The technocratic path is a treacherous one. Along it lie dangerous potential unintended consequences (worsened droughts, accelerated warming in some regions and cooling in others, and an exacerbation of ozone depletion and acid rain, among other perils) and moral hazard (the presumption that a simple techno-fix is available down the road could easily take the pressure off polluters to reduce carbon emissions now). The alternative path is the sociopolitical one. It views the obstacles to climate action as ones of collective political will. No miracle needed. We already have the solution in our hands, in the form of sun, wind, geothermal energy. It’s a matter of incentives—government policies that level the playing field and accelerate the scaling up of renewable energy and the transition away from fossil fuels. In my view, this is the far safer path forward. And it’s the one I advocate in The New Climate War.
Newsweek 23rd Feb 2021 read more »