The Tories have announced plans for a “green revolution” to combat climate catastrophe and help kickstart the economy after the pandemic.
Headline promises include banning petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and the creation of 250,000 new jobs.
Boris Johnson claimed the 10-point plan would be “making strides towards net zero by 2050”.
On first glance, it looks promising. The government is pledging to quadruple offshore wind power, increase spending on insulating homes and support greener energies in the aviation and maritime sectors. And it’s promised to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year.
These are all important initiatives, but digging beneath the surface reveals serious flaws in the Tories’ “green revolution”.
The plan includes boosting hydrogen production, a £525 million investment in nuclear power and an extra £200 million for carbon capture initiatives.
Hydrogen, which is created from fossil fuels, or nuclear power are not the solution to the climate emergency.
The nuclear industry is incredibly dangerous. Recent history shows this—three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had meltdowns following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
And nuclear power is set to become even more prone to disaster as climate change is making extreme weather more common and devastating.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas blasted the plans as inadequate. “This is a shopping list, not a plan to address the climate emergency, and it commits only a fraction of the necessary resources,” she said.
The government has made waves by bringing forward its pledge to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030.
New research shows that’s still not fast enough. A report from think tank New Automotive shows that the manufacture and sale of new vehicles until then will be enough to exceed Britain’s carbon emission target. Instead, it argued for a deadline of 2026.
And the government should prioritise public transport, cycling and walking schemes alongside a shift toward electric vehicles. But the government’s promises amount to simply “promoting” public transport, cycling and walking—with no new schemes announced to support them.
A move away from a fossil fuel-intensive transport system requires investment to make trains and buses free or very cheap. Reversing cuts to bus services, which have battered the sector particularly in rural areas, would have a huge impact.
The Tories’ plans aren’t just insufficient to cope with the climate emergency. They lock in a fossil fuel economy when we desperately need to break from it.
That would mean essentially eliminating the industrial pumping out of carbon emissions, not pouring money into technology that’ll hopefully capture future fumes.
And it means challenging the logic of a capitalist system where a tiny minority of fossil fuel corporations get rich while the planet burns.