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Calling for Carbon Neutral dates is pretty Meaningless Gesture Politics.

June 11, 2019 6:00 PM
By Steve Bolter

Steve Bolter (KNDaws)Despite large demonstrations and media coverage, the general public's awareness of the seriousness of climate change had been developing only slowly.


Then came David Attenborough's popular TV series; Greta Thunberg and her school strikes; and eXtinction Rebellion's obstruction of Thames bridges. The popular media became excited and public concern shot up.


This resulted in the Labour, the Green Party, and various other organisations, trying to outdo each other with target dates for reaching "zero carbon" or carbon-neutrality.


Calling for carbon neutrality target dates is pretty meaningless gesture politics. To avoid a very high risk of climate catastrophe, we need to keep global temperatures less than 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial level. It by starting carbon cutting too slowly, it would be quite possible to get to carbon neutrality by 2030, having exceeded the 1.5 degree limit on the way.


What is most important is not when we reach carbon neutrality, [when carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gas) emission rate is matched the rate of its absorption], but the rapidness of the fall of greenhouse-gas emissions in the next 5 years. The quicker emissions fall, the longer we will have to get down to neutrality.


In 2013 Conference adopted a Policy Paper setting out how Liberal Democrats, building on their work in the Coalition Government, would take the UK on a zero carbon path for 2050, keeping us below the 1.5C limit on the way, provided other countries do their bit too. However the Tories went back on much of our policy. Four wasted years mean we need to work even harder now to lower the chance climate catastrophe.


A Lib Dem group is working on a new policy to be put to the Autumn Federal Conference. The Green Liberal Democrats Conference in Nottingham on Saturday (15 June 2019) will preview and discuss some of the policy themes.


Climate change is happening now, and so probably is the peak of the wave of media attention.


At our Conference we need to decide how we can best take advantage of that wave.

Steve Bolter Member of G L D exec policy committee