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George Monbiot: The rich can relax. We just need the poor world to cut emissions. By 125%

George MonbiotGeorge Monbiot, Europe's leading green commentator, gives his rather negative opinion about the British and G8 climate strategy which he says “just doesn’t add up”. Monbiot argues that the British climate plan, which the G8 pretty much adopted as its own, is a “mockery” and that it is “very unlikely” to stop a two degrees increase in global temperatures.

“According to one person who has read the drafts, the new policies will include buying up to 50% of the reduction from abroad. If this is true, it means that the UK will not cut its greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, as the government promised. It means it will cut them by 40%. Offsetting half our emissions (which means paying other countries to cut them on our behalf) makes a mockery of the government's climate change programme.”

Monbiot writes that “if global justice means anything”, the rich West must of course make deeper cuts than the poorer developing countries. “We have the most to cut and can best afford to forgo opportunities for development”, Monbiot writes on the Guardian.

“Carbon offsetting makes sense if you are seeking a global cut of 5% between now and for ever. It is the cheapest and quickest way of achieving an insignificant reduction. But as soon as you seek substantial cuts, it becomes an unfair, impossible nonsense, the equivalent of pulling yourself off the ground by your whiskers. Yes, let us help poorer nations to reduce deforestation and clean up pollution. But let us not pretend that it lets us off the hook.”

It is, like always, worth a read: The rich can relax. We just need the poor world to cut emissions. By 125%

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Some carbon offset programs are extremely dubious in nature. Reforestation projects in particular are very hard to differentiate which ones will actually make a difference and projects that are just trying to cash in on reforestation that was going to happen anyway. Worse still is the message that this sends: "We don't have to change our behaviour, we can just pay someone else". Its unsustainable and self defeating, but I'm confused as to why the British government don't push other initiatives harder. Educating people about energy saving light bulbs and simple ways to improve home insulation seem an obvious start. They are simple, green and will actually save consumers money immediately, which is always going to be the biggest driver of consumer behaviour.

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Brendan @ Plentyways


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