Monday, 8 June 2009

Low CVP Conference Report

Today I attended the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership 6th Annual Conference at City Hall. The day kicked off with a talk by Dr. Kevin Anderson, Research Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

He told us that we often hear that an increase of 2 degrees in the earth's temperature would be just about tolerable, but that we wouldn't survive with any more than that - 4 degrees for example. In fact that isn't true. Whilst the Northern hemisphere would survive with an increase in 2 degrees, for the Southern hemisphere it would be disastrous.

Dr. Anderson said that we have known the consequences of accelerating climate change since the early 1990s. We have done almost nothing. Our lifestyles haven't changed (in fact, they've become even more wasteful in many ways).

He set out the speed at which we would now have to change our ways, including the speed at which car emissions would have to be brought down. Never mind targets for 2050 - Dr. Anderson was talking 130g CO2/km by 2010, 70g by 2020 and 35g by 2030. Plus - and this is the real sting - he said these wouldn't have to be the average for a fleet of cars, but the maximum. I thought of some of the large 4x4s currently emitting almost 400g CO2/km and felt my soul sink a little. These are tough targets.

So far, so bleak. Or perhaps realistic. There then followed lots of speakers, ranging from those from the automative industry, NGOs, SMMT, plus the new Secretary of State for Transport and Boris Johnson. Many speakers refered to Dr. Andrerson, saying he had set out too bleak a picture, that what he had said wasn't necessarily true, that we must think of the economy...I put my head in my hands and decided to build a raft for when the sea inevitably laps at my door.

I know we Greens can't be too bleak in our messaging. I know we have to sugar the pill. But let's face it, we can't bury our heads in the sand and keep quiet in case we scare people. We've got 90 months now to shout as loudly as we can: this is the problem, here are our solutions. We demand action, and reject procrastination. As Dr. Anderson concluded, we need emissions to be brought down by 6% per annum. "You might say that's impossible." he said. "If that's impossible, try living with an increase in temperature of 4 degrees."

1 comment:

  1. I think these kind of reductions are impossible under a capitalist system. We need to change the system as precondition to making it possible. Change it to what? Socialism of course.