Wednesday, 18 December 2019
The UN Climate Summit recently concluded, having been moved from Chile to Madrid and then being extended. Thousands of air miles consumed and lots of CO2-laden hot air spouted and not one single conclusive outcome. No actions, no decisions and almost nothing agreed, thus, no point. In fact it is doubtful whether the carbon cost of the futile exercise itself will ever be offset. I mean, just how many trees do you need to plant to cancel out the inanity of coming up with a ‘gender action plan’ which ‘recognises the impact of climate change on human rights, historic and current gender inequalities and the importance of intersectionality’?
These leaders, these experts, these braying donkeys tell themselves they are engaged in saving the planet for all humanity. Instead they are gathering some of its wealth for themselves and some favoured others. This is what climate action does. It creates a problem, funds research to describe the problem, lays the blame at the feet of the people who can do least about the problem, then attracts more funding to arrange junkets where rent-seeking buffoons can pat each other on the back and say they are fixing the problem. Well, they’re not.
This isn’t about whether or not - or how far - you trust the current thinking on climate change. Or whether anybody – and I mean, literally, anybody – has the full information at their command, let alone at their fingertips. For every doomsday prophecy about how a single centimetre sea-level rise will kill a billion people, there are a dozen contrary conclusions available. Hell you can’t even find out how much an offshore wind turbine costs throughout its life, or how much your bills and taxes have increased to pay for it, or whether, as has been reported, the short-term effect on climate change is actually negative.
And by short term I’m talking about the first one hundredyears. Yes, you heard me. Much of the technology isn’t sufficiently mature and the infrastructure needed to support such an energy paradigm shift is decades away. As a result, although a probable majority would agree to pay to ameliorate the worst effects of humanity on the planet, it is difficult if not impossible for anybody to be totally honest about it. Portents of mass extinction are overblown and hysterical, but hardly less problematic are the knee-jerk reactions of governments impotent to act rationally yet all too ready to act irrationally, as long as they are seen to be acting. But, for pity’s sake, governments, give people an incentive, don’t take the stick to them.
Electric cars for instance. I’m going on a charging point installers’ course tomorrow, as it happens, but I don’t expect to be either enlightened or enthused. Far from offering a revenue stream for jobbing electricians, this is just another way of selling blankets and shovels to the prospectors. The installation opportunities have already been monopolised by big money concerns and the little man won’t get a look in. Why am I going? Well, I am also a seller of shovels and blankets and my company will be offering courses in the new year; this is just a bit of small-scale industrial espionage.
Yes, I am part of the problem too, but, you see, humans are opportunists and if we don’t provide the training, somebody else will, as unnecessary as it will all turn out to be. Electric cars are not only not the solution, they don’t even come close to providing a solution. I expect them to prove to be a huge white elephant. Only this morning I heard somebody pronounce that all oil-fuelled vehicles must be off the road by 2030. To do this will involve a massive re-organisation of our entire society, the costs of which will fall – as always and in every way – on those least able to absorb them.
The solution – the solutions – lie not in governments doing a lot, but everybody doing a little. Instead of waiting for subsidies to persuade you to change, how about a bit of self-reliance for once? You want an electric car? Buy an electric car, for the full price. You want to reduce CO2 from flying? Forget about the ridiculous notions of ‘carbon trading’ just, you know, don’t fly. As for the rest of us, a little bit of tighter budgeting, a reduction in waste and a less thoughtless lifestyle might be all it needs to make a real difference. If only we could get the Chinese to do the same...