Scientists Compare Climate Pledges Without Action to COVID Plans Without Social Distancing
Carbon reduction pledges without action are like pandemic plans with no provision for social distancing, according to a group of University of Exeter scientists accusing governments of “climate hypocrisy” for supporting the 2015 Paris Agreement while subsidizing fossil fuels, clearcutting forests, and pursuing other policies that drive up greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
Writing in the journal Global Sustainability, the scientists call for action on climate change that matches the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic—and, decades ago, to the challenge of ozone layer depletion, PV Buzz reports.
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
The paper calls on governments to adopt a seven-point plan that includes:
• Ending all fossil subsidies;
• Banning new exploration for fossil fuels of any kind;
• Banning any public expenditure on fossil infrastructure;
• An end to “justifying fossil fuel use” through carbon offsets;
• Redirecting fossil subsidies to support a green energy economy;
• Minimizing reliance on future negative emissions technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS);
• Ending trade deals in which countries “buy products from nations that destroy rainforests in order to produce cheaper, greater quantities of meat and agricultural products for export.”
“Restoring the ozone layer and minimizing the COVID-19 pandemic both required governments to enact specific legislation to address the precise causes of these problems,” said Exeter mathematician Mark Baldwin, assistant director of university’s Global Systems Institute (GSI).
“By contrast, Paris Agreement commitments are the equivalent of intending to restore the ozone layer without a plan for eliminating ozone-depleting substances, or intending to end the COVID-19 pandemic without a plan for social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus,” he added. “We know the climate crisis is caused mainly by fossil fuels. Current climate and energy policies are therefore nonsensical because they condemn greenhouse gas emissions by individuals while promoting fossil fuel production.”
“The fundamental reason we are not solving the climate crisis is not a lack of green energy solutions—it is that many governments continue energy strategies that prioritize fossil fuels,” agreed GSI Director Tim Lenton. “Individual behaviour choices—such as diets and modes of travel—are important, but more fundamental is to replace the supply of fossil fuels with green energy.”