"Code red for humanity": the IPCC report
- 1.5C likely to be reached by 2040... At the heart of the report are five indicative scenarios for global greenhouse gas emissions up to 2100, reflecting five possible “Shared Socio-economic Pathways” (SSPs). With the world having already warmed by 1.2C since pre-industrial times, the report says that in all scenarios, from very low emissions to very high, the average global temperature is “more likely than not” to reach 1.5C, the limit aimed for by the Paris Climate Agreement, by 2040.
- ~~...but could be limited to that if drastic action is taken now.However, the report notes that if “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” in emissions occur this decade, the temperature rise could yet be held to around 1.5C for the rest of the century. This will not prevent continued extreme weather events, which are now inevitable with rising frequency, but the worst projected impacts could be avoided. Climate scientists have been at pains to point out that 1.5C is not a threshold: every 0.1 degree of heating increases the risks of catastrophic impacts.
- The economic implications. The FT’s Henry Mance compared the radical and unprecedented action governments across the world took to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 to the foot dragging and delays adopted by governments on climate change. George Monbiot argued that the crisis “means a complete retooling and redirection of economic life, away from growth, consumerism and accumulation, towards restraint and restoration.”
- ~~Economic transformation is required. A synthesis report on the simultaneous crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity by the UN Environment Programme earlier this year argued that “only a fundamental, system-wide transformation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values can reverse the current trends that threaten the well-being of present and future generations and the survival of other species.”
- ~~Policymakers are not ready. Analysing how current political and economic systems are not built to handle the speed of decarbonisation required by the climate crisis, the IPPR’s final report on the politics of environmental breakdown proposed a set of alternative policies and institutional arrangements.
- ~~Are there any grounds for optimism? Surveying the debate on the possibility of rapid change, environmental journalist David Roberts argues that “conditional optimism” is still possible.
Environment, climate change and inequality
- Job creation in the circular economy. Green Alliance produced a report explaining how the Government can create over 450,000 jobs in the circular economy by 2035 by implementing a target to halve UK resource use by 2050, incentivise repairing by implementing a zero-rate VAT on repair and funding training and reskilling to shift skilled traders towards jobs in remanufacture and repair. (Twitter thread explainer here and Sky News video summary here)
- Who pays for net zero? A Treasury Review of the costs of net zero has been delayed amid fears that “working class families will end up footing the bill for the Government’s green agenda”, which is perceived to be politically damaging in ‘Red Wall’ constituencies.
- ~~Participation is key. The IPPR Commission on Environmental Justice’s final report found that public support for net zero will only be maintained if the transition is designed in collaboration with the communities most affected. Watch their video explaining how to design policy with the input of local communities here.
- Council tax and geographical inequality. The i newspaper showed how residents of more deprived areas often pay more in council tax than the least deprived areas, with people in towns such as Burnley and Hartlepool typically paying 2% of the value of their property each year and people in Kensington and Westminster paying 0.1%.
- ~~A proportional property tax? Fairer Share, a campaign group pushing for property tax reform, explains the cross-party support for a Proportional Property Tax (PPT); a simple flat rate of 0.48% on the current value of properties, which is paid for by landlords and not tenants, with exemptions scrapped on second homes, and more. (See their video explainer on PPT here)
- ~~Why is it getting more regressive? Thomas Saunders, i’s data journalist, explained why council tax has become more regressive since it was first introduced: house prices in the South have risen more than elsewhere, and the poorest councils have been the hardest hit by austerity and so have had to make up the shortfall with tax rises.
- ‘Investment Big Bang’. The Prime Minister and Chancellor wrote an open letter to UK-based institutional investors (such as pension funds) calling for an ‘Investment Big Bang’ to shift capital towards UK green industries, infrastructure and other long term assets.
- ~~Redirecting private sector investment. The Centre for Policy Studies pointed out that the idea came from a CPS paper earlier this year co-authored by Jake Berry MP, Chair of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, calling for replication of the 1980s Big Bang to attract more capital to the North of England.