Green British Academics Blast Politicians for Allowing Consumer Choice

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1953 Communist Art, slightly modified

Essay by Eric Worrall

British Academics have blamed the Government’s failure to restrict meat, cheap flights, fashionable clothes and consumer electronics for our failure to tackle the climate crisis.

To address climate change, lifestyles must change – but the government’s reluctance to help is holding us back

Published: October 14, 2022 3.43am AEDT
Christina Demski Reader in Environmental Psychology, University of Bath
Stuart Capstick Senior Research Fellow in Psychology, Cardiff University

Without changes to people’s behaviour and lifestyles, it will be impossible for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050. But the government is failing to put in place the conditions that would enable this to happen – or even recognise its relevance in cutting emissions and meeting climate targets. Its laissez-faire approach of simply “going with the grain of consumer choice”, according to a recent report, has no chance of bringing about the urgent changes needed.

A House of Lords inquiry assessed the role of public behaviour in meeting climate and environmental goals. The report drew on evidence from leading experts on behavioural science and social change, as well as submissions from a wide range of organisations, including Tesco, Natural England and Cycling UK. 

Among the criticisms levelled at the government were accusations that it places too much faith in unproven technologies to fix the climate, and is reluctant to communicate to the public the scale of social change needed to create a low-carbon society. The varying remits of different government departments charged with helping the public change their polluting behaviour were characterised as a “muddle” and “inadequate” to the task. In some instances, government actions have pushed people away from low-carbon choices, like offering a tax cut for domestic flights just before 2021’s UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Perhaps most uncomfortable for a government that has elevated economic growth as its foremost priority, the report stresses the need for absolute reductions in many of the commonplace activities that are driving the climate crisis. This includes people buying less of the things with sizeable environmental impacts, like long-haul flights, beef and products that use a lot of resources, such as fast-fashion clothing and electronics.

It is for this reason that the House of Lords report urges the government to use taxes, regulations and infrastructure to level the playing field in favour of greener lifestyles, …

Simply waiting for people to make low-carbon choices in a world that doesn’t support those choices, and where people feel no stake in the changes taking place, is unfair and irresponsible.Read more:

British academics could lead by example, by boycotting the long haul flight to COP27, in Egypt’s infamously hedonistic resort town of Sharm El Sheikh.

But somehow the would be leaders of our socialist green utopia always seem to find a reason why they must, however reluctantly, continue to enjoy the privileges which they demand be denied to ordinary folk.

Make no mistake, these people are serious. A climate lockdown society in which politicians and academics get to dictate your choices appears to be their genuine end goal. In places like Britain, they are perilously close to getting their way.

via Watts Up With That?

October 15, 2022