As a climate action group, we must acknowledge the momentous news of Biden’s pledge at the 2 day climate conference summit with representatives of 40 countries around the world.
The US administration has promised to cut US emissions by half by 2030 – apparently one of the most ambitious goals of any developed country. A much hoped for turn around for a country going in the wrong direction particularly fast. The US government plans to back this up with legislature to make some significant changes on fossil fuel use and improving green infrastructure, as well as green jobs.
“Is it enough? No,” said John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy. “But it’s the best we can do today and prove we can begin to move.” Source
Encouraging news - but any climate activist knows to have caution, given the propensity to focus on technology to reduce emissions - and even to capture emissions we are meanwhile adding into the atmosphere every day. The focus on decisions being made by powerful people elsewhere can undermine the message about the size of the lifestyle change we must all make.
This article written by academics in The Conversation’s website came my way this week (which helpfully has a spoken version), and talks of the tendency for carbon capture to “perpetuate the belief in technological salvation which diminishes the sense of urgency of the need to curb emission now” and a “burn now – pay later approach”. For example:
Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage, or BECCS, rapidly emerged as the new saviour technology. By burning “replaceable” biomass such as wood, crops, and agricultural waste instead of coal in power stations, and then capturing the carbon dioxide from the power station chimney and storing it underground, BECCS could produce electricity at the same time as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
However, this would require massive planting on a scale that would require a huge change to land use around the world and prioritizing irrigation etc.
The article's familiar graph on the carbon budget model -reminding us of how carbon we burn now counts!
We know that to stop burning fossil fuels now would require us to live far simpler lives.
There is wisdom in that ethos, aside from the climate concerns. Retail therapy, exotic holidays, an overpowered car -these are quick boosts to morale and are very enticing for those who can afford it. However, we know this consumerism doesn’t improve overall contentment and can even increase dissatisfaction, whereas a simpler life has its own benefits, slowing down, enjoying nature and the seasons and mindful walks. This important shift has its own demands and can be effortful. It can also be quite complicated and time consuming to live more simply – such as sourcing local food, working out what to do with different vegetables, making your home better insulated, generating your own electricity, developing skills in making and repairing, learning how to nurture nature. Those who are tackling these challenges now speak of benefits they experience as the goal is a meaningful one and the learning is satisfying. It also helps to feel part of a community who share these beliefs and the related challenges.
In CARR we hope to develop a support and links for people who have knowledge and experience of reducing their carbon footprint alongside people who are new to these topics and interested to learn. This can foster personal change for the group members, but better still, we want to be making community-sized projects, whether around your park, community building or particular interest. We have made a start with projects around green energy and in engaging the local community in nurturing wildlife in Earlswood Common.
For CARR to grow, we need others to join us with interests and ideas – not necessarily expertise. We have found so far that enthusiasm, persistence and ‘teamliness’ count for a lot of getting things done.