From Cornwall – a developers’ paradise?
On July 24th Cornwall Council’s Cabinet approved a report from its Climate Change Programme Team and their ‘emerging’ Climate Change Plan. This had been triggered by councillors’ declaration of a climate emergency in January and their demand that Council officers produce a report to establish how Cornwall might become carbon neutral by 2030. On a global scale this is necessary in order to restrict global warming to at least 1.5 degrees. (It should be noted that this target is challenged by many climate scientists who believe we are now on a course to overshoot that target unless carbon neutrality is achieved by 2025 at the latest. Meanwhile the UK Government target is net zero by 2050, which is looking to be a dangerously complacent and inadequate response to the growing crisis of climate breakdown.)
What does Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Plan tell us? It certainly can’t be accused of mincing its words. The report is replete with apocalyptic and spine-chilling warnings. We’re facing ‘rapid biodiversity and ecosystem loss’ and a ‘mass extinction event that threatens and severely impacts all life on our planet’. This ‘unprecedented’ crisis requires an ‘unprecedented’ scale of change. In Cornwall the current 4,000 kilotons of greenhouse gas emissions a year will have to be reduced to zero by 2030. To put that in perspective the last eight years saw a fall of 938 KT, or 117 KT a year. That rate will have to be boosted to 290 KT a year, or more than doubled, to have any chance of hitting the 2030 zero target.
Although this report correctly identifies both the scale of the environmental crisis that industrial capitalism and human stupidity has generated and the radical changes required to overcome it, it remains reluctant to spell out what changes individuals will have to make to their deeply unsustainable lifestyles. There is also a lack of urgency in providing examples for the rest of civil society to follow. Too much is made of inadequate previous policies which have either been contradictory greenwash (such as the ‘environmental growth strategy’), have had marginal effects (e.g. walking/cycling networks) or even been counter-productive. For example, academic research suggests park and rides work to increase traffic flows rather than reduce them. More honesty, more recognition of the mistakes made in the last wasted twenty years, more identification of the contradictions of current Council strategy are all required to make this more convincing.
Moreover, greater imagination would be welcome. The report ends with the rather plaintive remark that solutions to the ‘grand challenges’ of the climate emergency ‘in reality are yet unknown’. Yet proposals for a steady state economy have been floating around in the literature since the 1970s. Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity Without Growth was a short-lived best-seller in 2009. Before that the de-growth movement has been around since the 1980s. Moreover, in 2006 DEFRA drew up plans for a system of carbon rationing. None of these solutions are mentioned in this report. Thinking more broadly, political ideas of decentralised socialism could well provide some of those long-term solutions the authors of this report appear to be unaware of.
To sum up, there’s food for thought in the Council’s Climate Change Plan and much of it easy to swallow. The scale of the crisis is recognised and the need for radical changes, both to political structures and to lifestyles, correctly identified. Yet, without being too cynical, doubts remain. Cornwall Council has a sorry record of saying one thing and proceeding to do another and as a result has lost much credibility. Will it actually live up to the principles it now proclaims in its Climate Change Plan? When will it stop hiding behind the Government and passing the buck? When will it reject its high population growth strategy? When will it admit its plans for mass housing and urbanisation are unsustainable? Finally, if councillors are really committed to the Climate Change Plan when do they intend to bin their New Frontiers ‘ask’ of Government, with its stale, failed, outdated and dangerously inappropriate policies?
For the complete article – https://cornwalldevelopersparadise.wordpress.com/cornwall-councils-climate-change-plan/?fbclid=IwAR0MRbS2Wmb1N5uoHz_eLOK0fyHL5zNNNkL53EmRCZ7gr9CCsc_1D2TzYA0