What do we have to do and why?
How are we going to pay for it?
Mission Zero is a report that guides the way for the UK to restrict anthropomorphic climate change. It is with us and can only get worse unless the world changes its way of living and travelling. The AR6 Synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adds more weight to this view. Chris Skidmore MP, the Chair of the Net Zero review (Mission Zero), has stated: ‘Climate change deniers are now becoming climate change delayers.’
That said, public opinion has turned significantly towards accepting that climate change exists since the millennium. ‘edie’, the green media brand, published a report commissioned by First Light on climate change attitudes.
Mission Zero is an attempt to address the climate delay option of doing nothing and to stimulate government action.
Setting the scene
In this part of the report, Mission Zero points out that spending money on projects to reduce climate change will produce jobs and improve the national economy. The points it makes are as follows:
- Net zero is the growth opportunity of the 21st century.
- The economy and climate change are intertwined.
- The Review has heard loud and clear that net zero is the economic opportunity of the 21st century.
- The UK is well-placed to take advantage of the opportunities.
- The UK enjoys a comparative advantage over other advanced economies in several key areas – notably offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and green finance.
- We must act decisively to seize the opportunities in a global race.
- We must move quickly.
- Ultimately, the benefits of net zero will outweigh the costs.
- Delivering net zero is the industrial revolution of our time – and climate change the greatest threat.
- Not only can the transition deliver a thriving, modern, green economy but it can materially improve people’s lives.
- Work is needed to secure the benefits and minimise costs.
‘The early bird catches the worm’
Mission Zero sets the scene, but the level of inertia from large and small businesses, central government and the public is considerable. Mission Zero is facing the headwinds of an economy in difficulties and a growing productivity gap with the other G7 economies. In short, instead of trying to grow the economic cake, we are squabbling over who gets what slice.
Business has invested billions in fossil fuels, and our pension funds continue to invest in new North Sea oil finds. Individuals prefer to invest in bricks and mortar than they do in stocks or investments, green or otherwise. While buy-to-let and AirBnB are so attractive, and tax efficient in so many ways, why would individuals put their hard-earned cash in insulation, wind farms, micro generation or solar? It is significant that the theme of Earth Day, 22 April this year, was ‘Invest in Planet Earth.’
‘Let the government do it’ is the cry
Instead, the UK government is doing the opposite and subsidising investment in a new North Sea oilfield. They make specious claims about fuel security, knowing very well that North Sea oil is sold on the open market and is therefore not earmarked to heat our houses or power our cars.
Central Government has also put ‘levelling up’ in the Red Wall before the national interest by supporting a coking coal mine in Cumbria for short-term election interests. Such coking coal may not be suitable or needed by the fast-diminishing UK steel industry. Such a mine will cause more pollution and break the UK pledge on carbon limits, it is claimed.
Where the Government is choosing to invest is in nuclear fission power generation, which is expensive, incredibly slow to build, and has long-term costs in terms of decommissioning and waste storage.
Mission Zero mentions the US Inflation Reduction Act, which gives a $369bn stimulus to green efficiency and carbon reduction. The European Union and the large economies in Europe, Japan, South Korea and China all have similar measures, but not here. We have fine words but no actions.
Large sections of the public prefer to hear scare stories about air source heat pumps and ultra low emission zones (ULEZ) rather than spend money on heat pumps for making their homes more efficient or buy more efficient cars.
Something will turn up…?
Mission Zero is full of exhortations to do more and review the blockages in the way of a better, greener, cleaner future, but unless something too awful to contemplate happens, human beings, being what they are, will carry on in the same old ways and hope that ‘something will turn up’.
In the original sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the alien being Klaatu and his robot Gort proceeded to show the world what would happen if humankind did not mend their ways. Perhaps what we need is a latter-day Klaatu and Gort to teach today’s humankind the path of rectitude and salvation. Is it going to take something so awful, which may not be reversible, to stimulate action? You might have thought that a European war and a summer of infernos would be sufficient to give the necessary stimulation, but apparently not.
We must act now
Mission Zero says we must act now, and that in effect the ‘early bird catches the worm’, but the experience in Britain is one of scientific endeavour and poor short-term investment policies, which leave the country ‘wormless’. We are caught between the need for more tax revenues from the North Sea and the need to meet the UK carbon zero targets to save us from looming environmental disaster.
Editor’s note: Mission Zero is billed as ‘an independent report’, but the current issue of Private Eye notes on p. 13 that Chris Skidmore receives £80,000 a year from the US/South African company Emissions Capture Co. Ltd.