These are not the words of extreme climate activists, but a view backed more than 700 of the UK’s leading scientists ahead of the government’s revised net zero and energy security strategy (27 March).
Sadly the evidence of science was again disappointingly ignored in the 1,000-page revised strategy which was strongly criticised as “… a missed opportunity full of ‘half-baked, half-hearted’ policies that do not go far enough to power Britain’s climate goals, according to green business groups and academics…”
Nobody is denying it is simply impossible to suddenly switch from fossil fuel to renewables. The world has been dependent on fossil fuel for transport, food production, heating and manufacturing for over a century.
However, the rate at which fossil fuel is contributing to global warming and climate change is accelerating out of control and we must simply stop developing our capacity to perpetuate that dependence.
Simultaneously expanding fossil fuel production while investing in measures to offset the damage it causes to the economy and environment is absurd.
Compulsion on housebuilders to fit rooftop solar to new housing and a comprehensive nationwide programme for insulation of the UK’s draughty housing stock, were two obvious and immediate options to reduce energy consumption which were notable by their absence in the review.
The Treasury, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Department for Business and Trade are currently not in agreement over whether or not to introduce carbon border taxes.
Once again demonstrating political will remains a significant barrier to achieving long-term energy security without reaching the tipping point and limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. We need to listen to the scientists, and in turn we need to make sure our politicians listen too.
Bolstered by a sense of urgency, organisations such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) are growing in number. Increasingly, parents and grandparents are taking to the streets to protest because they have realised it is the future existence of their children and grandchildren that is threatened by climate change.
Having spent a lifetime caring for their family they feel a strong sense of responsibility to influence what lies ahead. This demographic shift is I am sure in part responsible for the change in approach by climate activists.
Disruptive or destructive action may attract publicity but it also breeds resentment. XR for example are now advocating “…attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks…” They have learned they need to work towards a political solution without disrupting people’s lives and making life more difficult for everyone.
Raising awareness and persuading others to take action is the only way forward.