Telling the truth (NOT) about what zero carbon really entails

SA:  Prof Sir Ian Boyd, the UK government’s chief environment scientist almost gets it right in his retirement interview with the BBC.  But then he does what everyone in positions of responsibility right now does, and waffles….badly.  There are hints of the truth in this interview, but his closing tells people it will be ok: nothing will really have to change.

Here’s the truth he was getting to: 

  • “The public has little idea of the scale of the challenge from the so-called Net Zero emissions target.”
  • “Emissions are a symptom of consumption and unless we reduce consumption we’ll not reduce emissions.”
  • “Emissions won’t be reduced to Net Zero while ministers are fixed on economic growth measured by GDP, instead of other measures such as environmental security and a relatively stable climate”
  • “We need to make major technological advances in the way we use and reuse materials but we (also) need to reduce demand overall – and that means we need to change our behaviours and change our lifestyles.”
  • “We certainly won’t be able to travel so much as we have in the past, so we have to get used to using modern communications methods.”

And the, he brings the waffles, bigly:

  • “It will very rarely come down to a direct message like ‘sorry, you can’t buy that but you can buy this’. But there will be stronger messages within the (tax) system that make one thing more attractive than the other.”

If it will “rarely” come down to such direct messages, and we will have to rely on the tax system, then I’m pretty sure we’re fucked.  And he was coming so close to delivering the ultimate truth about the post carbon world: everything changes, in every single way. 

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