Climate x Politics: May 2020


("too long didn't read" - a summary for people with no time to spare)

MPs are more in favour of climate action than they let on
UK citizens formally added to the climate policy making process
Government advisors publish 6 key COVID recovery principles
Green New Deal more affordable than climate catastrophe
More funding for innovative firms in the UK
UK Airline bailout refused

MP's reveal pressures that stop them speaking out about Climate Crisis

Writing in the Guardian, Rebecca Willis reveals the incentives that MPs face to hold back from speaking out about the climate crisis. The full article can be read HERE

MPs have good levels of understanding of the climate crisis, yet many different factors prevent them acting on this knowledge to the extent called for by the evidence. These include: conflicts of interest between short term constituency goals and long term climate goals, an incompatibility of problems of climate with the political culture, a fear of not being taken seriously, and a worry that there is a lack of public support for the issue.

Politicians are caught in a dual reality in which they comprehensively understand the problem yet are unwilling to begin to work towards solutions.

People in other walks of life also experience this dual reality and can be seen to reason themselves out of taking individual actions against the climate crisis.

Both within and without the political sphere, the concerns of daily life trump the long term risks of the climate crisis. In the short term, life is easier if the climate crisis is ignored.

Leading politicians often make grand statements about climate change only to flip straight back to politics as usual.

MPs face conflicting incentives. Tackling climate change is in everyone's interests in the long run, but economies in local constituencies may benefit from carbon intensive activities in the short run.

A stand-off exists between politicians and the public. Politicians won’t act before they know they have public support on the issue, but the public wont act until serious climate action is legitimized by politicians raising the issue. Our democracies aren’t offering people the choice on climate change.

The first UK Climate Assembly will hold its final session on 23rd May

The climate assembly brings together people from all walks of life, and shades of opinion to discuss how the UK should meet its Net Zero 2050 target.

The members meet in 4 meetings, originally planned to take place across the spring of 2020. They hear balanced evidence on the choices that the UK faces, discuss them, and make recommendations about what the UK should do to become net zero by 2050 - a legally binding target.

The outcomes of these discussions will be presented to six select committees who will use them as the basis for detailed work on implementing the committee's recommendations.

The Climate Assembly raises questions about how such public engagement should be structured. For example, to what extent would the assembly be able to call for an earlier net zero target? What is the proper relationship between politicians, citizens, and experts in the climate policy process?

More information about the Climate Assembly is available HERE

Government Advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, publish 6 key principles for a resilient recovery from COVID-19

The aim is to lay out the path to a stronger, cleaner, and more resilient economy.

1. Use climate investments to support economic recovery and jobs
2. Lead a shift towards positive, long term behaviours
3. Tackle the wider ‘resilience deficit’ on climate change
4. Embed fairness as a core principle
5. Ensure the recovery does not lock in GHG emissions or increased risk.
6. Strengthen incentives to reduce emissions when considering tax changes

Read More

Chancellor announces £1.25 billion cv package for firms driving innovation in the UK

£500 million investment fund for high growth companies impacted by the crisis
Small and Medium sized Enterprises focusing on R&D will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans.
“Ensure firms … are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth”

There is no discussion of why we might want such growth, or how this investment will help to contribute to other societal goals, like mitigating against the climate crisis.

Read More

In a separate package, 50 million in funding has been made available for innovation related to how we work. This is targeted at increasing resilience against coronavirus type threats. Hopefully this will include climate change. Read More

The Green New Deal may be relatively affordable

The cost of such dramatic investment and restructuring may be off putting to some. However;
The cost will itself likely be far outweighed by the cost of damage that results from climate change
A study shows that 2°C of warming will lead to $36 Trillion in damages.
Green New Deal requires an up-front investment of $7.8 trillion. But this is a true investment with numerous returns, rather than an outright cost.

Read More

UK Airline industry Bailouts refused

Rishi Sunak has told airlines that bailout will not be provided across the board but will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
It’s not clear whether this is motivated by fiscal responsibility or concerns about putting money into a high carbon industry

Read More

Airlines in the US however have received a $60 billion bailout, further evidence of the administration's refusal to take decarbonisation seriously

Other News:

Study says, deep emissions cuts this decade required to avoid abrupt ecological collapse
EU emissions trading scheme reduced CO2 emissions despite low prices, paper finds
Federal Court strikes down EPA attempt to suspend regulation of HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons)
The Sun continues to publish misinformation about climate change

By Louder than the Storm Political Lead, MacGregor Cox


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