In its latest report, the Committee on Climate Change has called for the UK to become a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. This, they argue, will not only meet commitments made under the Paris Agreements, but also go some way to repaying the pollution debt the UK has amassed since the start of the industrial revolution.
If you can stomach to wade through 270 pages of dry, often technical and occasionally poorly written prose, you’ll find little to inspire. The usual warnings about the effects of climate change are present. So too are concerns about rising emissions from developing economies. There’s even the obligatory checklist calling on people to reduce their thermostats, eat less red meat, fly less and use public transport. Needless to say this has found its way into the press as if it were the only recommendations the report made.
It is all incredibly dull and tedious and uninspiring.
The report was never going to be a gripping page turner. For a start, it was written by a Committee advising a Government that’s not renown for being exciting. Second, it replays a lot of what’s already been communicated about what’s needed to reduce the human impact on a changing climate. Third, recent protests have highlighted all too clearly a desire to do more and faster.
Then there was the timing. It came out the day after Parliament backed a motion calling for urgent, rapid action to be taken to address climate change. Suggesting 2050 as a target date for a net-zero economy feels less than urgent.
We need some very un-British passion
We’re missing passion. We don’t have an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to inspire us with sharp rhetoric and hustle. There isn’t a British Greta Thunberg who can draw attention simply by turning up. The best we can do is the quiet calm of David Attenborough, when what we really need is someone looking at the next person to block progress and asking, “Are you serious?“
No doubt a lot of hard work and thorough research is going into the Committee’s work, and they should be commended for it. However, what they’ve produced is another mildly disappointing report that’s going to be watered down and potentially ignored.
We need a British version of the AOC’s Green New Deal. It needs to be delivered with forthright passion and the hammering of fists on desks. This Committee can’t do that.