So it’s goodbye climate deniers, hello – and you’ll pardon me for being blunt here – climate bullshitters. The impacts of the climate emergency are now so obvious, only the truly deluded still deny them. Instead, we are at the point where everyone agrees something must be done, but many are making only vague, distant promises of ineffective action. As a result, we are currently on track for a 0.5% cut in global emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, when a 45% drop is needed to avoid climate catastrophe. So how to spot this greenwash? A good rule of thumb is whether the proposal actually cuts emissions, by a significant amount, and soon, and whether the proposer is in fact making the climate emergency worse elsewhere. Let’s start at the top, with the world’s governments, which have been setting out more targets than an archery competition. The global leader is the UK, which recently pledged a world-beating emissions cut of 78% by 2035. Targets are a necessary first step, but need action to be met and the instant, universal response: “Show me the policies!” The problem is some actual UK policies are pushing emissions up, not down: massive road building, a scrapped home energy efficiency programme and slashed electric car incentives, new oil and gas exploration, a failure to halt airport expansions and block a new coalmine (instead, the government belatedly ordered a public inquiry). But it is not just Boris Johnson’s government that says one thing while doing another. All are talking tough on climate, but China is building one large coal-fired power station a week, Japan remains one of the biggest Companies are, if anything, even better bullshitters than governments, and the fossil fuel giants are masters. Many are still exploring for new reserves, when we already have more than can ever be safely burned. Chevron touts capturing CO2 emissions and storing them underground as a solution – one that of course enables the continued burning of its products. But its plans for carbon capture and storage cover less than 1% of its 2019 carbon emissions. ExxonMobil wants public money to help with its carbon capture project to store 50m tonnes of CO2 by 2030. That’s just 8% of the 2020 emissions its products resulted in. Another technological fix promoted is hydrogen, in theory a clean fuel when generated using renewable energy. But its most enthusiastic backers are incumbent fossil fuel companies. Members of the global Hydrogen Council include Saudi Aramco, BP and Total, while the UK parliament’s hydrogen group is funded by Shell and gas network and boiler-making firms. Why? Because hydrogen is a way for oil companies to move towards green energy without giving up fossil fuels. Pierre-Etienne Franc, co-secretary of the Hydrogen Council until 2020, explained: “It’s a way to avoid having stranded assets from the current fossil fuel-based system.” financiers of overseas coal plants and Norway is developing giant new oil and gas fields.
Guardian 6th May 2021 read more »