Guardian: Let’s abandon climate targets, and do something completely different

Setting targets for climate action sounds sensible, but is actually impeding progress. There’s a different approach: maximisation

George Monbiot @GeorgeMonbiot Wed 29 Jan 2020 06.00 GMT Last modified on Wed 29 Jan 2020 13.42 GMT

An oil rig in the North Sea
‘The 2015 Infrastructure Act introduced a legal duty to ‘maximise the economic recovery’ of petroleum in the UK.’ An oil rig in the North Sea. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

The crisis is not imminent. The crisis is here. The recent infernos in Australia; the storms and floods in Brazil, Madagascar, Spain and the US; and the economic collapse in Somalia, caused in part by a devastating cycle of droughts and floods, are not, or not only, a vision of the future. They are signs of a current and escalating catastrophe.

This is why several governments and parliaments, the UK’s among them, have declared a climate emergency. But no one in government acts as if it is real. They operate within the old world of incremental planning for a disaster that has yet to arrive.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the reports of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official body that began with such hope and promise of holding the government to account, but that now seems to have abandoned scientific realities in favour of political priorities.

Its latest report, on changing the UK’s land use, is so unambitious that, in some respects, it would take us backwards. For example, it calls for a 10% reduction in cattle and sheep numbers over the next 30 years. But it admits that over the past 20 years, their numbers have declined by 20%, so this would involve a slowing of the trend. Cultured meat and milk could replace these sectors almost entirely by 2050.

Read more at the Guardian …