Most people agree we need to reduce carbon emissions to tackle climate change. We have been gradually reducing our emissions, as have other developed countries.
All governments need to be clear with people: no matter how quickly we reduce our emissions in the developing world, it will have little impact on global climate change unless we can encourage all countries to reduce emissions. UK emissions amount to 1% of global emissions. Emissions in developing countries continue to increase.
By focusing only on an impractically tight timetable to achieve net zero, we risk alienating the public.
Constituents ask why they should bear significant personal cost when developing countries cannot decarbonise, and we do little to help. Instead, we are seem to be embarking on a punitive process without the knowledge or consent of the public. We are setting about banning alternatives and forcing businesses and the public to adopt unaffordable options at their own expense, when it may not be practical or possible to meet the targets.
For example, it is Government policy to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and phase out new gas boilers from 2035. The costs to individuals will be substantial. If we continue on this road it seems likely we will fail to reach net zero by 2050 and public support will falter, as people realise they are expected to pick up the tab with no apparent impact on global climate change.
There are opportunities to drive growth and create jobs in new green industries, whilst providing opportunities to learn new skills and qualifications. This must be the main thrust of our net zero policy, rather than forcing people to comply with arbitrary deadlines.
The Government’s announcement of a review into meeting net zero by 2050 in a pro-business and pro-growth manner is welcome. The Government also needs to make it easier and cheaper for us to make carbon neutral choices. We need to help developing countries to make the transition to net zero, sharing our technologies and green expertise.
We cannot tackle climate change unless we bring people with us.