Policies must rise to climate challenge
CLIMATE CHANGE is now an accepted reality for most people, however UK Plc has been slow to react.
Although some action has been taken to reduce transport emissions, overall steps towards mitigation have been piecemeal and less effective than predicted.
We now find ourselves past the point at which small but steady changes will adjust our climate’s trajectory.
It’s become clear that drastic measures need to be taken and, as a society, we need to leave our fossil fuel burning habits behind, moving into a brave new world of renewables.
Transitioning faces two major problems.
First, the scale at which we must now act will prompt a new industrial revolution, which will be incredibly disruptive and expensive.
Second, the speed at which we need to implement is far greater than the first Industrial Revolution itself.
These challenges are further exacerbated in the current economic landscape, where we find a reluctance on the part of most businesses (and consumers) to test or implement new technologies that could help.
Of course, cost is cited as the main reason.
Fundamentally we need a sea change in attitude and approach, which can only be triggered by direct government intervention or significant policy change.
It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to deliver below this level.
All major parties have placed their markers down ahead of this Thursday’s General Election when it comes to environmental policy, particularly around housebuilding and construction.
I cannot help feeling that their plans range from the sometimes ridiculous to the incredibly tunnel-visioned.
For example, while I admire the Conservative Party’s intention to bring forward the phasing out of gas boilers in new builds four years early,
nothing is mentioned about existing properties.
Surely this is the bigger issue, the corpulent eco-elephant in the room?
Equally for the Labour Party, their ambitious visions look great on paper but you’d need a forest of magic money trees to deliver it, or tax business and the wealthy until the pips squeak to borrow a phrase from Denis Healey, a late Chancellor of the Exchequer.
A somewhat regressive approach to filling the Exchequer’s vaults.
Of course, it’s great to be ambitious but we need to ground ourselves in a sense of reality and an understanding that we will make some mistakes along the way. The prize will be worth it, as failure to address the climate challenge is not an option.
Myopia aside, it’s good that our political classes have finally put these issues at the top of the agenda.
At this stage, quite how far government will need to go is uncertain.
It may be necessary to pull back certain institutions into public control or at least restructure existing bodies to better address pressing concerns.
Unfortunately in the current landscape, short-term aim gets in the path of a long-term position.
Current government policy seems to be governed by minority interest and is disconnected at best.
If the goal really is to avoid climate change, why do we have to wait until arbitrarily set dates to achieve our goals?
Transport presents a great example. If you want to increase the use of electric vehicles why not adjust the price of diesel so it’s twice as much as it is now?
Sure, there will be significant cost and inconvenience in this but unless we start now, where will we end up?
BURNING ISSUE: Intervention is needed to reverse climate change.