We must cut carbon, not contemplate our navels…
On Friday I spent the morning sitting on the Newcastle Council Climate Committee hearing evidence from experts on the scale of the climate issue and what we would have to do to meet our Net Zero by 2030 target. The discussion was earnest and (mostly) well informed, but there was an element of “we can’t do *that* because…” There was a reasonable public audience for a Council committee meeting that didn’t have parking on the agenda (although it kinda is on it…).
What did make me smile was a Green Party activist complaining on Twitter that none of the Councillors on the committee raised the issue of economic growth. For a start, I would argue that economic growth can be decoupled from carbon emissions simply by stopping burning fossil fuels, but the real question is why on earth would somebody raise such an argument in this context?
First of all, and most importantly, the Council is in no position to change the national/global economic model. Secondly we were (rightly) focussed on what we as a Council/city can do to slash our carbon emissions quickly, not having a philosophical debate. And thirdly, raising the spectre of an outside force which will render our efforts fruitless would plant the seed of “why bother risking personal political capital on this?” in the minds of decision makers.
I coined the phrase “pragmatic environmentalism” to focus minds on the bottom line – we need to cut carbon and fast. The atmosphere doesn’t care whether a tonne of carbon is emitted under capitalism or socialism (more than half of the biggest polluters in the world are state owned). It doesn’t care whether carbon is emitted by economic growth or under a steady-state economy (a small amount of my income comes from renewable energy projects, I reinvest it in renewable energy). It doesn’t care whether carbon was emitted by a SUV stuck in traffic or by listening to whale music in a hippy commune. It’s all carbon…
All this stuff is just distracting noise, often promulgated by professional virtue signallers. We need to be lowering the barriers to action, not creating spurious hoops for people to jump through. Don’t let people throw spokes in your wheels!
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