An astonishing global shift is under way: 127 countries have now stated that by mid-century their overall emissions of carbon dioxide will be zero. That includes the EU, US, and UK by 2050 – and China by 2060. Companies are enthusiastically signing up to similar “net zero” goals. Finally the international community seems to have accepted the scientific fact that we need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to stabilise our climate. Dare we hope that the climate crisis can be brought under control? Perhaps, but big problems remain. Long-term commitments have not resulted in sufficient near-term actions. The world is on track for emissions to be just 0.5% below 2010 levels by 2030, compared with the 45% needed on the road to net zero by 2050. The pivotal Glasgow Cop26 climate talks in November will need to tackle this. But a more insidious problem is emerging. Net zero increasingly involves highly questionable carbon accounting. As a result, the new politics swirling around net zero targets is rapidly becoming a confusing and dangerous mix of pragmatism, self-delusion and weapons-grade greenwash. The science of net zero is simple: every sector of every country in the world needs to be, on average, zero emissions. We know how to do this for electricity, cars, buildings and even a lot of heavy industry. But in certain areas, including air travel and some agricultural emissions, there is no prospect of getting to zero emissions in the near future. For these residual emissions, greenhouse gasses will need to be sucked out of the atmosphere at the same rate as they are added, so that, on average, there are net zero emissions.
Guardian 3rd March 2021 read more »
The flipside to spending on green however, is taxing not-green. This means that duty on carbon-heavy fuels including petrol, diesel and red diesel will only go one way – whether that is today or later this year. Tax on gas and oil will have to be looked at if households, transport and the built environment are expected to switch to renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. In all this, there is a very real danger that fiscal measures designed to encourage cleaner, greener living inadvertently exacerbate socio-economic divisions. The rich can afford to buy Teslas, switch from gas boilers to expensive heat pumps, to insulate their homes and install microgeneration technology so their homes are completely renewable. Those living in social housing, in rented accommodation, in high rise buildings, in flats with shared services, families with a 15-year old diesel car they rely on to take the kids to school, who genuinely dread the boiler packing up for fear of the £3,000 it will cost to replace: these people cannot be left paying the price of a carbon tax levied for the right environmental reasons but which leaves them even worse off.
iNews 3rd March 2021 read more »