“Profound changes in the socio-economic structure of modern society” are needed to limit the increase in global temperature, climate scientist Kevin Anderson argued in Responsible Science journal last month.
I hope that everyone who cares about climate change and social justice will read Anderson’s short, clear article, available on the Scientists for Global Responsibility site. It’s a great starting point for discussion.
Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester university, briefly summarises the “carbon budgets” that need to be stuck to, if society is to limit global warming to 1.5-2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
He thinks it is “still do-able – just”, despite thirty years of “failures, tweaks to business-as-usual, carbon markets” and talk of the “dodgy prospect” of carbon removal technologies.
What would count as “serious climate action”, in Anderson’s view? A “roll-out of low and zero-carbon technologies”, in the style of the Marshall Plan – an international, state-directed reconstruction programme for Europe after world war two.
These technologies cover retrofitting our houses, public transport and massive electrification. It’s much more this “far from sexy” end of technology that’s important: the everyday technologies that allow us to live sustainable and fulfilling lives, rather than dreams of big and powerful electric vehicles (EVs), electric planes and lots of future carbon dioxide removal.
But, Anderson continues, rapid deployment of these technologies will no longer be enough. “We also need profound changes in the socio-economic structure of modern society. That is to say, a rapid shift in the labour and resources that disproportionately furnish the luxuries of the relative few – not just the billionaires, but also people like me.”
Society’s productive capacity, its labour and resources, need to be mobilised to “deliver a public good for all – a stable climate with minimal detrimental impacts”.Read the rest of this entry »