And so to the distasteful business of saying something halfway nice about a Tory policy. This week saw incompetent Head Boy Boris Johnson announce his 10-point plan to take back control from the climate apocalypse. And while I’ll be back to slagging the vicious prick by the fourth paragraph, there were a couple of half-decent things in it that deserve a mention.
The most headline-grabbing: A ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, years earlier than planned and second only to Norway which will ban the filthy buggers from 2025. That’s a massive, transformative step in line with Greenpeace’s demands, precisely the kind of change we need if we’re to avert disaster. Just ten years from now they’ll be done, giving the Stonecutters no choice but to go balls-deep into electric vehicles, while second-hand cars become ultra-valuable, mega-customised, Mad Maxed sado-death machines.
Elsewhere in the 10-point to-do list: Quadrupling wind power by 2030; plonking more charging points for electric cars about the place; installing heat pumps in 600,000 homes per year as an alternative to dirty-bad gas central heating; and planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year because reforestation is where it’s at. This is some decent stuff if it comes off, putting me in the uncomfortable position of praising a Tory government. It’s like if Myra Hindley gave me a cupcake.
Fortunately there’s plenty left to boo them for. Their plan’s too reliant on Maybe Tech, eyeing up carbon capture technologies that will lift a rug under which we can sweep ongoing fossil filth, and aiming for “cutting-edge technologies” that don’t exist yet but might maybe do something at some point in the future, hopefully. It’s too keen on nuclear power, ensuring if we escape the threat of climate breakdown we can do ourselves in with a bone-liquidising meltdown apocalypse. It’s vague beyond belief in parts, bigging up future efforts to make walking, cycling and public transport more attractive while casually omitting side details such as how and when. It’s chronically underfunded, its budget of £4 billion carrying a definite whiff of afterthought when compared to the £36 billion Germany’s set aside for its green recovery and the £24 billion the Tories just piled into their defence budget. And the overall target of net zero by 2050 remains as wrong-headed as planning to close the stable door next June after the horse has told us it’ll bolt sometime tomorrow afternoon.
Parliament declared a climate emergency in 2019 but we have yet to see an emergency response. As the Never Knowingly Under-Awesome Caroline Lucas points out, we have to address the roots of the climate crisis: the genocidal capitalism that says Greed Is Good and yer planet can suck it. We’ll never get that with the Tories, never get close to a green recovery that puts wellbeing and decency and the basics of actual humanity at the heart of a climate response because they don’t give two shits about human beings. But they could at least ditch their muddled, inconsistent non-strategy that has them planting trees while laying new roads, and ditching petrol cars while getting a semi over new airports, cancelling out any progress they’re likely to make.
Still, there’s something encouraging about the plan, however compromised it is. If a Tory government’s taking steps this big it’s indicative of a shift in thinking, a sign that people are finally starting to take this thing seriously. With the departure of a climate-denying fascist, Biden eyeing up a return to the Paris agreement and China starting to do its share there is reason to be hopeful. It looks like the net zero arms race is getting going. It’ll take more than a Tory press release to save us, more than four billion quid, and more ambition than they’re showing so far but we should grudgingly big them up a bit, if only to stop them sending Priti Patel round to beat the living shit out of me.
Photo credit: The Zero