Getting real: what would serious climate action look like?

Spread the love

From Getting real: what would serious climate action look like?

So what would it look like? Let me sketch out just a few examples. An early win would be an immediate moratorium on airport expansion and a plan to deliver a fair 80 percent cut in all air travel by 2030. Also, no more new internal combustion engine cars would be built from 2025, and there would be a huge shift away from private cars in cities and urban environments coupled with a shift towards public transport and active travel. Maybe rural communities would continue to use EVs, but with a rental rather than ownership model. Also necessary would be the retrofit of existing homes, not just a pilot scheme but actually rolling it out street by street at mass scale. Passive house standards would be required on all new properties and also a maximum size threshold. Why are we building homes that are 200 to 400m2? Cut this to a maximum of 100 to 150m2, still large homes, but with much less resource and material use – and of course less land! And when we sell existing very large houses, have them carefully and creatively divided into normal sized homes. All of which would free up labour and resources to achieve the necessary decarbonisation agenda. On top of all of this we need a massive expansion of electrification in the energy system. This is an unprecedented scale and rate of change – pushing the productive capacity of society to its limit and consequently demanding the reallocation of labour and resources to deliver a decarbonised, sustainable and prosperous future.

[H]ow do we get the debate opened up? How can the silent majority, who will do really well out of these changes, have their voices heard without being twisted by those running the show? If the media, ‘the great and good’ experts and we high-emitters continue to have our way there will be no shift in business-as-usual until we’re hit by the climate chaos of inaction. If, however, enough voices can break through the stifling status quo, perhaps a more honest and inclusive debate can be catalysed. As we have progressed beyond the climate deniers, so now we need to move beyond the ‘mitigation deniers’ who greenwash business-as-usual. To me at least, the rise of civil society engagement on climate issues along with real-world technologies demonstrating what is already possible, suggest that we may be in the foothills of a social and technical tipping point. Of course, we can’t know this until we are actually living through it. But we can increase its likelihood and hasten the demise of the high-carbon status quo by repeatedly and coherently countering the ‘mitigation deniers’ wherever they may reside.

Kevin Anderson is a Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Universities of Manchester (UK) , Uppsala (Sweden) and Bergen (Norway). Kevin is also co-founder of the Climate Uncensored website – – where readers can find more detailed discussion of the issues covered in this article.

From Getting real: what would serious climate action look like?

Leave a Reply