Action needed - summary
The climate crisis has been caused by too much use of fossil fuels.
So the obvious solution is to reduce use of fossil fuels.
The timescale needed is given by the United Nations SR15 report, i.e. halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, except that for several reasons, reductions in the UK needs to be faster.
- conservatism in the SR15 report
- worsening climate data since the data considerd in the SR15 report
- legacy emissions
The type of target is crucial. There is currently a lot of discussion about the date at which we will reach zero CO2 emissions (or net-zero), but this is an opportunity for prevarification if there is no discussion about how fast to reduce emissions this year, next year, and so on.
The current western culture puts too much emphasis on personal immediate consumption and not enough on long-term planning.
Previous generations worked hard to make the world a more pleasant place for their children and grandchildren. For example, people planted avenues of trees knowing that they would never themselves see the end result.
This use of fossil fuels initially improved people's lives in western Europe and elsewhere, through guaranteeing a good food supply - but in the last few decades, many things suggest a society in decline:
- surveys have shown no increase in happiness despite increased consumption
- prison populations are at record levels
- obesity levels are rising
- the economy has become dependent on debt - the run on Northern Rock in September 2007 was the first run on a large UK bank for decades.
We should now be moving to a sustainable way of living - i.e. ways of living that are sustainable in the long term. 'Sustainable' includes the concept of 'ethical' (treating others as you would like to be treated yourself) since unethical ways of living are not sustainable in the long term.
Urgent action is needed from all elements of society.
First published 2007
Last updated: 11 Jul 2019