If your climate promise is ten years out, it’s likely bullshit that won’t happen

One of the chief ways our political leaders are dishonest about climate change is in making promises which they know will be beyond their time in office, and which they can therefore never be held accountable for.

Emission reduction targets set in the 2030s and beyond certainly qualify, as do promises that some future government will ban a harmful technology.

When the time to actually implement the ban comes, a new government subject to popular opinion and seeking to win re-election is likely to soften or ignore it. Germany right now provides an example. They had pledged to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2035, but are now realizing that the date is getting close enough to start looking like a real promise: Germany faces EU backlash over U-turn on phasing out combustion engine.

Governments need to be evaluated on what they will do right now, this year, during the term of office when they hold power. Otherwise, we are setting oursevles up as citizens to be lied to while our worst problems grow increasingly severe. A government that says it has a long-term plan to zero out carbon emissions, but which is allowing them to grow in the short term and allowing more fossil fuel projects, is lying with the connivance of its voters.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “If your climate promise is ten years out, it’s likely bullshit that won’t happen”

  1. But analysis by the campaigning group Uplift has shown that the likely emissions just from producing oil from the field would be enough to exceed the share of the UK’s carbon budgets that should come from oil and gas production, from 2028 onwards.

    That would mean other sectors of the economy would have to cut their emissions further and faster to enable the UK to stay within its carbon budgets, if the Rosebank field went ahead.

    The findings raise further questions over the government’s plans to push ahead with the development of oil and gas despite pleas from scientists and the UN to halt new licences. Ministers are in the midst of a new licensing round for oil and gas in the North Sea, and this is expected to continue despite the net zero strategy. The government’s energy security and net zero strategies, running to more than 1,000 pages, were unveiled on Thursday. They contain a major gamble on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which will receive £20bn of government support over 20 years, and which ministers said would allow for continued fossil fuel use.

    But scientists told the Observer that using CCS in this way was a dangerous gamble, and that calling off any proposed new development of oil and gas was a safer way to meet the net zero commitment.

  2. The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of oil, by a long shot. That means rising prices for oil and gasoline hit American pocketbooks hard.

    But the U.S. is also the world’s largest producer of oil. And for companies that sell crude, a Saudi production cut means a big windfall.

    On Monday, energy stocks had their best day on Wall Street in months.

    It’s also an opportunity — hypothetically, American oil producers could boost their output to take market share from the Saudis. President Biden attacked oil companies last year for raking in record profits while not doing enough to raise production.


  3. If you go to all the hard work of passing climate change legislation, make sure it actually gets implemented.

    That’s the lesson from a law passed more than 15 years ago. It contains a section mandating that all new and remodeled federal buildings be 100% free of fossil fuels by 2030. But that provision never went into effect, because the Department of Energy failed to finalize regulations to implement the law.

    A combination of factors halted the regulations, most notably opposition from natural gas utilities that faced the likelihood of losing business. So instead of getting rid of gas-fired appliances, there are federal buildings still installing them, including in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.


  4. The final report of the United Nation’s climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has come out at last. The desperate optimism that characterised the last few volumes (this is Part Four of four) has frayed away to almost nothing. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres bluntly called it a ‘survival guide’. But it’s not even that, really.

    It lists all the things that the world’s countries could and should be doing, but so did every previous report and most countries are still falling far short of the minimum requirement.

    The report’s authors even admit that the ‘aspirational’ goal of never letting the average global temperature exceed 1.5 degrees C higher than the pre-industrial level will definitely be missed. It was formally adopted by the IPCC only five years ago, but it’s already too late to stop the warming short of +1.5°C.

    “It has always been clear in the IPCC and in climate science that it’s not very likely that we will always stay below 1.5°C,” said Dr Oliver Geden, who was on the report’s core writing group. Well, it was always clear to me, too, but I don’t remember the IPCC ever officially admitting it before last weekend.

    The new buzz-word is ‘overshoot’, as in ‘Yes, we’re going to overshoot 1.5°C for a while, but don’t despair. We’ll get back down below that level as fast as we can.’ Good luck with that.

    They’re clutching at straws. The scientists pull their punches and sound positive because they have to keep the governments committed to the process. The governments can’t afford to get too far ahead of public opinion in their own home countries. And the last exits on the Highway to Hell are flashing by right now.


  5. Germany is letting a domestic squabble pollute Europe’s green ambitions

    A clumsy attempt to scupper new European legislation at the last minute—on scrapping the sale of new internal-combustion cars by 2035, as it happens—has left fellow eu members seething. Not for the first time, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is accused of putting domestic political convenience ahead of the European interest.

    The self-congratulations have been delayed—or perhaps cancelled, nobody quite knows. Even Brussels insiders had assumed the internal-combustion rule had been passed months ago. Only the procedural step of ministerial signatures remained, another opportunity for politicians to take plaudits for a job well done. What should have been a mere formality has turned into a giant spanner in the works. Despite German officials having been present at every stage of the law’s passage through the complex Brussels process, and having signed off time after time, Germany is now refusing to approve it. Such behaviour is just about unprecedented. Revisiting agreements once consensus has been achieved is a recipe for wrecking the eu machine, the diplomatic equivalent of pouring a glug of diesel into a petrol car.

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