Author Archives: John Shoesmith

Rationing carbon

Conference Motion F12, Tackling the Climate Emergency

Our remaining carbon budget will probably be used up in less than 10 years at the current rate of consumption. If that carbon budget is squandered, our children will face a double problem. They will need to fight rising sea levels, desertification, violent storms, and unprecedented heat waves without the use of convenient and powerful fossil fuels.

Yet we continue to squander fossil fuel. The most important decision ever taken by humanity is how to control fossil fuel use.  Our precious carbon budget may need to last for hundreds of years until the CO2 levels in the atmosphere decline again.

Given the gravity of the situation, I can see no alternative now but to ration carbon. Each person’s total carbon emission must be added up using a smartphone app whenever they make a purchase, and further purchases should not be possible if their ration is exceeded.

Rationing is a simple tried and tested way of distributing scarce resources. In World War 2 this country had limited supplies of food, so food was rationed – rich or poor – the ration was the same. The result was that the poor stayed healthy and were motivated to win the war.

Rationing is painful, but this is an emergency, and whatever is needed must be done. The response to Covid was a ‘Stay Home’ order. The pain was incredible, but it was done.

If a few countries could make rationing work, others should follow, because there is concern about climate change in all countries.

The consequences of this approach will be a complete shift in global priorities: Fossil carbon consumption will be seriously considered in every aspect of life.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Taking decisive climate action

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On the 7th March 2020 I watched a Premier League football match at Burnley. We all knew about coronavirus, but the League continued as normal. It would have been hard to cancel the Premier League on the 7th March. We were all afraid of what was coming, but at that time only 2 people had died in the UK.

Later, as Britain recorded many deaths – deaths that were the result of infections spreading rapidly during March – we blamed the government for being indecisive. What are the lessons?

On 8th August 2021 I drove from the Midlands to a school beyond Cambridge. I was taking a family member to a course and I felt that the Sunday trains weren’t reliable. I decided to drive, despite the fossil fuel burn.

I’d known for 30 years that using fossil fuels was dangerous. Was I mad? No, I was acting logically. I knew that this one trip would make little difference to the planet. Why risk the uncertainty of Sunday trains for no reason? It is billions of decisions like that that are killing the planet.

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Is there really a Climate Emergency?

The science seems clear – the answer is yes. The reason for the question mark is that there is so little evidence of emergency action.

Our Parish Council, like many others, has declared a climate emergency, and we are doing what we can, but it isn’t much. In the UK the big decisions rest with Boris Johnson.

Johnson’s trade deals mean that we are importing more and more food and consumer goods from countries that do not respect the environment. We are building new houses on green fields. Our roads get busier and our government is building more. The Tories will do a few green things to win votes but have no proper plan for zero carbon.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 32 Comments

Why we have a duty to form an Alliance

In 2019 Boris Johnson won a landslide victory. It left him with total power to inflict a heartless Brexit. Our young people face barriers if they want to study or work in Europe. Many people have found their lives badly affected.

How did this happen? What lessons can be learned from the 2019 election?

Firstly, Boris offered certainty after several years of Brexit indecision. Voters knew what they would get if they voted for him. Some ‘remain’ voters just wanted things settled.

Secondly our electoral system rewards big parties. The Tories won only 44% of votes, but they were the biggest party and won easily.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments
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