George Monbiot: The Committee on Climate Change’s new report sets minimum targets for reducing greenhouse gases. It’s too little, far too late. he crisis is not imminent. The crisis is here. The recent infernos in Australia; the storms and floods in Brazil, Madagascar, Spain and the US; and the economic collapse in Somalia, caused in part by a devastating cycle of droughts and floods, are not, or not only, a vision of the future. They are signs of a current and escalating catastrophe. This is why several governments and parliaments, the UK’s among them, have declared a climate emergency. But no one in government acts as if it is real. They operate within the old world of incremental planning for a disaster that has yet to arrive. Nowhere is this clearer than in the reports of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official body that began with such hope and promise of holding the government to account, but that now seems to have abandoned scientific realities in favour of political priorities. The report makes no mention of rewilding or natural regeneration. The only means it proposes by which trees should return to the land is planting. This is often a slower, more expensive and less effective way of restoring habitats and sucking carbon out of the atmosphere than removing livestock or controlling deer numbers and allowing trees to return by themselves. Its target for reforestation is so feeble that the UK would still have less than half the average current European forest cover by 2050. The CCC envisages not wild woods, but plantations, whose purpose is the discredited policy of “bioenergy with carbon capture and storage”. The appropriate response to the climate emergency is a legal duty to maximise climate action. The CCC’s board should be disbanded and replaced by people whose mandate is rigorously to explore every economic sector in search of the maximum possible cuts in greenhouse gases, and the maximum possible drawdown. We have arrived at the burning building. The only humane and reasonable aim is to rescue everyone inside.
Guardian 29th Jan 2020 read more »
“A Trillion Trees” is a great idea—that could become a dangerous climate distraction. Reforestation is critical for lots of reasons, but it’s no substitute for cutting emissions.
MIT Technology Review 28th Jan 2020 read more »