“The government being “on the wrong side of History”, as Conservative MP Chris Skidmore put it, poses a challenge to the opposition to stand up to them and not be dragged in their wake.”
By Paul Atkin, Greener Jobs Alliance
What better time than the hottest month in recorded history to back off from Net Zero commitments?
In response to being asked about the climate crisis last year, Rishi Sunak said that his young daughters were always asking, “what are you doing about the environment Daddy?”
An honest answer might be, “nothing that affects the profitability of the oil companies darling…”
From declaring himself “the motorists friend”:
- opposing 20 mph speed limits and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
- a stance on ULEZ that translates as “let them breathe nox”
- rushing through 100 new permits for oil and gas fields in the North Sea
- cutting the UK carbon price under the EU level
Everything he has done in the last month reflects not so much the obliviousness identified by Zak Goldsmith, “he is just not interested”, but complicity and culpability at every level; boosting the fossil fuels that will make us fossils. He described this as “pragmatism”; even as holidaymakers in Rhodes were fleeing wildfires.
The deals that his family business (infosys) has done with BP, reveals a direct personal benefit. But, even without this kickback from doing the wrong thing, the collective interest of his class puts us on the road to extinction if we leave them in power, as spelt out by George Monbiot here.
The government being “on the wrong side of History”, as Conservative MP Chris Skidmore put it, poses a challenge to the opposition to stand up to them and not be dragged in their wake, and for the climate movement to mobilise the popular majorities that exist both for climate action nationally; and for cleaner, greener streets and community owned onshore wind in many local areas.
Only 8% of even Conservative voters think that no action should be taken to get to Net Zero. But 55% of all voters think that the measures needed should not put “additional costs on ordinary people.”
As the transition is imperative for all of us and current economic inequalities neither desirable nor sacrosanct, and generally resented, Labour would have majority support to tax the wealthy and impose windfall fossil fuel profit taxes at confiscatory levels to finance the transition at the expense of those whose elephantine carbon footprints are causing the crisis in the first place.
The approach being adopted in Wales, with a publicly owned energy company promoting community renewable energy is a good start. As Welsh Climate Change Minister Julie James puts it, the “current market-based approach to the energy system is not delivering decarbonisation at the scale of pace necessary for the climate emergency.
“To reach this we need a rapid transformation of our energy system. With the launch of Ynni Cymru we are on our pathway to meet the equivalent of 100% of our annual electricity consumption from renewable electricity by 2035, and to continue to keep pace with consumption thereafter.
“Local use of locally generated energy is an effective way to support net-zero and keep the benefit in our communities.”
- This article was originally published by the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) August 2023 Newsletter – you can read the newsletter in full here.
- Paul Atkin is the editor of the GJA, you can follow them on Facebook and twitter.