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From Climate Scepticism


A key element of my case for abandoning Net Zero is that globally CO2 emissions are increasing because over 70% are sourced from non-Western countries that don’t regard emission reduction as a priority and are focused instead on economic and social development, poverty eradication and energy security.

Therefore, I argue, it makes absolutely no sense for Britain (the source of less than 1% of emissions) to pursue this unachievable and disastrous policy.

But – say supporters of the policy – my argument ignores the fact Britain has a unique part to play:

we’re widely seen as a climate change leader and, for there to be any hope of global emission reduction, it’s essential that we set an example – do we really want to be responsible for the failure of this desperately important global policy?

It’s a view that’s exemplified by this extract from the Chair’s Forward to the recently published Mission zero: Independent review of net zero:

The UK’s leadership on tackling climate change has not only delivered real change at home … it has led to a global transformation in how countries and companies now view the importance of taking action on net zero.

The first thing to say about this is that the evidence plainly shows that our so-called ‘leadership’ is meaningless.

In 1990, the UK emitted 0.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 and, for example, China and India 2.4 Gt and 0.6 Gt respectively. By 2021, the UK figure was 0.3 Gt – i.e. a 50% reduction. That would seem to be a compelling lead. But did China and India follow suit?

No, far from it: their 2021 figures were 12.5 Gt and 2.6 Gt – i.e. 421% and 333% increases.

The reality is that the idea that non-Western countries are waiting for leadership from the us betrays an embarrassing, outdated, neo-colonial frame of mind.

After more than two hundred years of what’s widely seen as condescending, arrogant and often rapacious exploitation by the West, countries such as China, India, Iran, South Korea and Indonesia understandably have little interest in following a Western lead and are confident that they’re quite capable of deciding for themselves and going their own way.

One perspective might be that the idea of Western leadership really boils down to old white men (politicians and scientists) in the West telling people of colour in the non-Western world (comprising 84% of humanity and all its poorest people) what they should be doing. Unsurprisingly, the latter are unimpressed.