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The hard truth about carbon emissions

Moncaster said there are huge gaps in regulation. The European Building Performance Directive on which the UK regulations are based does not cover the operational carbon of existing buildings, nor the embodied carbon of any building, i.e. the emissions associated with building it.


Moncaster noted, for example, that parents experience overcrowding and overcrowding after their children leave the house. “It’s not about building more buildings, it’s about more equality.”

Moncaster proposes a set of policy priorities: Minimal new construction; Retrofit instead of demolish; Retrofit for future climate; Net zero carbon new build; Minimize steel and specific Utilization; energy is a socio-technical issue.

During the one-day forum, Moncaster repeatedly emphasized the need for “systematic joint governance.” Otherwise, what one hand gives in decarbonization, the other takes away, as in the example of Anable’s electric cars and SUVs.

I left the event with this in mind, along with three other topics.

First: Is it enough to talk about “lack of political will”? In my opinion, we need to go further.

time limit

Jim Skea, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation, opened the forum with an overview IPCC Sixth Assessment Reportpublished in 2021-22.

He said countries’ pledges to reduce emissions were insufficient, but there was also an “implementation gap”: even the pledges made were not being implemented.

So, after last year’s COP-26 talks in Glasgow, instead of talking about whether the glass is half full or half empty, “may be more accurately three-quarters empty and one-quarter full”.

Skia was asked which event would have the biggest impact. “Political will,” he replied.

Why haven’t you come yet? Because decarbonizing the economy is “very difficult”. These are decades-long processes. The current political time span in the UK is about three hours. “


As if to underscore the point, news of Liz Truss’ resignation as prime minister came about two hours later.

But Skia hints at a bigger problem: Not only are the world’s major governments unwilling, but – given how the power apparatus works – unable to Make the necessary changes.

This begs the question: Is there a need for greater social change beyond the international talks the IPCC is involved in?I also think so.

My second theme: How do we assemble a meaningful narrative about doing or doing less in rich countries?

Jillian Anable puts it bluntly: “We are facing a future of less travel. We might as well find ways to do good for the good rather than impose it on us later.”


She argues that “there are only two futures — success or failure,” and in both cases, car use will decline. Anable in joint article In collaboration with Phil Goodwin, published last year.

It states: “Basically, we either limit carbon to the required levels by the end of the century, or we fail to do so, and then we are in completely unknown, unpredictable, runaway territory for climate change.

The third, impossible, future, she already writtenis: “As the Ministry of Transportation predicts, transportation grows with the economy growing steadily, but at the same time, the national and international economy remains generally unaffected by climate change or policies to address it.”

Anable is also very clear that emissions must be reduced in a way that addresses social inequalities. “We’re talking about fuel scarcity,” she said, “but a lot of people are in transport poverty: for example, living on the outskirts of town, at the end of expensive and poorly serviced bus lines.”

Anable, Goodwin and others advocate a combination of paradigm shifts (encouraging people to travel by bicycle, public transport, etc. rather than cars) and destination shifts (such as through different urban planning approaches) to reduce the need for travel. They argue that regulation is the key; individual action is not enough.


I hope activists in labor and social movements will pay close attention to what researchers of technological systems such as these have to say.

University researchers in social science disciplines who have written about society’s response to climate change will also benefit from further consideration of technical details.

For example, discussions are currently ongoing – participants include Matthew Huber, Kailu and David Canfield – on whether the working class struggle for social justice should be combined with the idea of ​​”de-growth”.

Basically, Huber said they shouldn’t, to which Heron responded that they should: “Since the energy and resource use of the global north cannot be extended to the rest of the world without exceeding the planet’s biophysical limits, anti-imperialist politics requires those at the core— – including many workers – reducing their overall consumption.”

People in the Global North need change their way of life is the subject whole book By Markus Knowledge and Ulrich Brand.


All of these discussions will be enriched by focusing more on the ways in which large technological systems in rich countries (of which urban transport systems and urban built environments are the largest) actually consume fossil fuels.

Expert researchers have shown in a number of ways that fuel throughput and greenhouse gas emissions can be slashed, allowing us to live better lives.

My third and final theme: How can we strengthen the alliance of scientists and researchers with social movements?

Cardiff University PhD student Aaron Thierry pointed out in a poster presentation at the forum that one way scientists can engage in civil disobedience is.


Thierry and five other authors in Co-published article natural climate change Last month, entitled, Civil disobedience of scientists helps drive urgent climate action.

They argue that scientists’ credibility in society depends in part on “whether their actions clearly match their messages”.

The authors also question claims that the legitimacy of scientists depends on “their status as impartial, objective or ‘neutral’ observers” and that science and politics should remain separate.

“Any dialogue between science and society cannot be value-neutral, nor should it be aimed at.


“The widely held belief that ‘honest brokers’ dispassionately providing evidence to those in power will serve the population’s best interests is not in itself a neutral view of the world; on the contrary, it conveniently poses no threat to the status quo and is often quite naive .”

well said. I hope this will be another step in forging stronger, organized links between scientists, other researchers, and the social movements needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

Thierry and four others were acquitted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, the second day of the forum, on criminal damage charges after gluing themselves to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in April ( BEIS) on the windows after the proposed.

Extinction Rebellion scientists, five of whom were a part, Say Their action was “nonviolent civil disobedience to highlight the dangers posed by new oil and gas exploration”.

this author

Dr. Simon Pirani’s blog is at Human and Nature, where this article first appeared and in the tweet @Simon Pirani 1.

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