In Part 1 I argued that Net Zero is the wrong path for the UK. To be clear that does not mean we should not have an environmental plan we definitely need one. Just not the one in place at present. Net Zero is focused on solving worldwide problems , we need instead to focus on our own requirements.
For a modern economy energy is its life blood it can also be the source of carbon. So, let’s start with:
Don’t use energy in the first place. It is the most obvious thing and the most effective. We waste lots of energy. Lights that are left running, electrical devices left on, street lighting etc. A better analysis of where we waste energy and monitoring systems to back them up would be more effective than forcing people to buy heat pumps. And as a next step where we must use energy it should be more efficient. The Insulate Britain movement were fundamentally correct in putting energy reduction as a way forward. It is just sad they annoyed everyone in the process. But there are numerous things this country should be doing. Our ageing housing stock is anything but efficient this is where a focus on infrastructure is needed. We can improve our efficiency with some targeted investment and thus improve our national footprint. And small in the home steps such as LED will make a difference. This is an on the ground approach of lots of small steps. So, let’s spend say £300 billion on energy efficiency and infrastructure up grades.
Cheap dependable clean energy; Easily said, harder to do. However, we have reduced coal to practically zero and should be targeting imports next – gas, biomass, interconnectors. Why imports ? We need to have energy independence to ensure we can keep the lights on. Recent events have shown how shopping the world has big downsides. So, to transition we need to expand home sourced product. More wind and solar and tidal. Likewise expand nuclear with say 30 Rolls Royce mini plants ( £2bn a pop ). And tidal and nuclear should stay in public ownership as our national reserve. So maybe £150 billion to secure our needs.
Future proof our infrastructure: More heat and more rain means we need to future proof our infrastructure. Greater heat resistance on road and rail to stop tarmac melting and rails distorting. Better house design to keep heat in or out depending on the season and solar panels on the roof. Water will become a major issue; we will need better storage for hotter times and the means to move it around the country. In the same vein we need to protect coastal communities from rising sea levels improved sea defences are a must. Fortunately for those in the East of the country which will be impacted most, London is also under threat so something will have to be done. Maybe £100 billion for future proofing.
Protect Biodiversity A changing climate will inevitably stress our wildlife and our wildlife is already under pressure. Instead of subsidising farmers not to make food let them make what they want. Split conservation from food production by buying up land for expanded national parks and create conservation “islands” for biodiversity. Plant more woodlands and clean up our rivers and lakes. And not just on land we need more marine reserves to protect and encourage a recovery in the marine environment. £50 billion for a better Britain.
Eliminate single use plastics Plastics are everywhere and one of the major causes is single use plastic as found on most forms of package. Legislate it out of use ( we have made a start ) and clean up what can be found. Nobody knows what plastics’ long term effects will be so get rid of it. £10 billion for a clean-up and research into alternatives.
Overseas help The mass movement threatened by climate cannot be ignored. Most refugees don’t want to be refugees, so we need to stabilise overseas communities and help them live in their own country. There are numerous schemes across the world some of them very creative from fighting deserts, usable water, localised energy sources. Therefore, no funding space programmes, instead work with reliable governments to help people improve their lives and communities and they will stay home. Say £100 billion
So, all told we have spent £710 billion on things which directly impact us from the effects of climate change. Big, broad, sweeping numbers of course but it gives us a flavour of what we can do. We will still benefit from the move to reduce carbon as environmental drag – newer cars, more efficient machines – are already working their way through the system and will continue to do so. But now we have mitigated key risks and have something to show for the effort.
Lots of practical and tangible projects rather than diktat de haut en bas. I prefer this approach as it appeals to the common sense of the British people and will get acted on. Any takers ?