Message to our next PM: Climate Cakeism Won’t Cut It
Here in the UK, the long, tedious slog to take over as Prime Minister from the disgraced Boris Johnson finally comes to an end today. From an environmental point of view, both candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, have stated they are committed to the country’s Net Zero by 2050 target. However, both have also come out against solar farms and onshore wind, and said they would expand North Sea Oil & Gas (good luck with that one) and fracking where there is community support (ie nowhere).
Such ‘climate cakeism’ drives me up the wall. How can we tackle climate change without changing anything? Ruling out vast swathes of the solution while ramping up the problem goes beyond greenwash into rank stupidity. The bottom line is we can only stabilise future temperatures by a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. That will require decisive action and sometimes controversial decisions, not wishful thinking.
I am an eternal optimist. Whoever wins (probably Truss) may ‘pull a Starmer’ † and swiftly change tack from tickling the underbelly of party members to appealing to the general public (who want action on climate). There is a very recent precedent – for a long time Boris Johnson played climate sceptical riffs in his pre-power journalism (“How can the world be warming if I can see snow outside my window?” etc), but, on taking up the reins he was given a presentation on climate science and quickly converted to the cause, producing eye-catching policies on conventional cars and increased investment in walking and cycling. OK, that’s far from a comprehensive decarbonisation agenda, but it was more than we expected.
My fingers remain crossed.
† Kier Starmer stood for the Labour leadership on a leftwing manifesto before swiftly ditching most of those pledges.