Net Zero is Greenwash – Don’t be Fooled

There is a lot of talk these days from people advocating we should be trying to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions as soon as possible to stop the planet heating up even further. However most of this is greenwash, it’s meaningless or deception, it’s a global con being used by fossil fuel industries to continue doing what they are doing. What we should be talking about is Zero Carbon, or as close to it as we can get.

What does net zero mean? The official explanation.

Net zero carbon emissions refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere. It’s like a set of scales: producing greenhouse gas emissions tips the scales one way, and we want to get those scales back into balance with no new greenhouse gas being added. Once we stop emitting greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, we still need to deal with all the emissions we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere over the years. That’s the difference between zero carbon and net zero.

Another way of thinking about it.

You go on a 50 mile journey by motor car fuelled by petrol or diesel. You will emit Co2 emissions as a result of that journey. To make the trip net zero you have to take all those emissions you have created out of the atmosphere. How? It is suggested that you plant a tree. But, trees take time to grow and start taking emissions out of the atmosphere, which will be in about 10 years from planting. That’s a long time to pay back that single car journey and gain net zero.

Many companies are trying to pursue Net Zero using carbon offset schemes, planting trees for example. To do that at the scale necessary will not help people in poorer countries where farming land is likely to be taken over by big corporations for tree planting and will take many years. In addition, global warming and climate change will alter the land available for planting trees and the type of trees that can be planted. Single tree species generic forest plantations anyone?

Getting to net zero means we can still produce some emissions, as long as they are offset by processes that reduce greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, like drawdown technologies such as direct air capture. The more emissions that are produced, the more carbon dioxide we will eventually need to remove from the atmosphere (this is called sequestration) to reach net zero.

Companies are falling over themselves to tell us they will contribute to net zero and the UK Government is working to persuade more and more countries to sign up to net zero targets before the UN climate talks in Glasgow.

Some of the talk about net zero is well meaning and will indeed drive real emissions reductions. But a lot of it is greenwash, a deliberate smokescreen to delay serious action.

A recent report shows why we should be very sceptical about claims for net-zero plans. These plans can be based on technology that may never develop, offset schemes that could never be big enough or simple ignoring most of your emissions in the first place.

Many of you will be familiar with criticism of governments, including our own two, which tell us that carbon capture and storage and related technical fixes will be the answer, when they are a decade away at any scale, if they happen at all.

As for carbon offset schemes. Those that involve planting trees would need to be rolled out on a massive scale to let companies and countries keep on burning fossil fuels.

Globally, carbon offset plantations would become a new cash crop, with poorer countries displacing people and agriculture to make hard cash from selling offsets. It’s nearly a decade since Interpol warned that carbon trading was ripe for crime and they have helped catch many fraudsters since. But even an honest scheme only works if the trees continue to grow for many years, ironically something hard to guarantee in a world with a rapidly changing climate.

The North Sea oil industry claims they are working towards net zero while blithely ignoring the emissions that result from their customers burning their oil and gas.

Everybody claims to be green these days but what the planet needs is actual zero carbon emissions, not the messy nightmare that is net zero.

You can also read this article for more information:

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UK Government Failing to engage with a “Global Britain”

International affairs are framed as a choice between a country and the rest of the world. This is Nonsense.

Diplomatic failures to resolve problems over many years have created real challenges: of low wages; economic decline; environmental damage and political upheaval in many parts of the world.

Now UK Government’s lack of ambition over a global minimum corporation tax of 21% may result on the UK missing £131m per week in income. That’s money that could be spent delivering net zero carbon emissions in the UK, create 1.7m new clean energy jobs in towns and cities in the UK.

The UK has committed £5b to green stimulus – 7 times less than Germany and 5 times less than France. We need to be bolder.

We should be re-instating research partnerships into clean energy. Leading the effort to vaccinate the world and not hold on to them. Invest in global programmes that save lives and protect our national security which is best achieved by not slashing aid funding.

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The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story picks up immediately after the first one finished. Paige Mahoney escaped her imprisonment in the Sheol prison camp, under cruel Rephaim leadership, only to return to her former cage, under the guise of protection, of her mime-lord Jaxon Hill. When the underlord of the underground clairvoyant community is brutally murdered, a new mime-lord must reign in his stead. All eyes turn to Jaxon Hill and his renowned mollisher, Paige. But Paige has other ideas. And these don’t involve being ruled by anyone, anymore.

Her morality is what made Paige such a fascinating protagonist. She may be young, impetuous, and volatile but she is also fierce, noble, and brave. This nebulous individual is also mirrored in the setting. There are wonderful evocative descriptions of this futuristic London.

View all my reviews

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Voter ID for Voting?

The UK Government is proposing to make people use Photo ID at polling stations in future elections. This would require Councils, as the electoral body responsible for organising elections, to issue millions of identity cards.

However millions of people do not have Photo ID cards. It is suggested a driving licence may be enough but, there are millions like me who have a paper licence – something I’m not gong to replace when it expires. Another suggestion is to use a passport but again, there are millions of people who don’t have one. Mine’s expires in a couple of years just when this scheme may come into effect and I may not renew it. Would my travel pass be enough?

Mandatory ID for voting was introduced in Northern Ireland in 1985 owing to the troubles there and photos were introduced in 2003. People there were allowed to use a variety of documents until the electoral identity card with the photo element was introduced in 2003.

The whole purpose of this is to prevent election fraud, something that there is very little evidence for. It’s more likely to lead to people losing their right to vote if they don’t have the right paperwork.

I don’t know what’s like elsewhere in the UK but here in Scotland – where these proposed changes may only apply in elections to the UK Government not to elections purely taking place in Scotland under Scottish Government control – the Councils issue voters with polling cards with a person’s name, address and polling place on it. The theory is that you take your card to the poll place and are given a ballot paper but it’s not enforced. You can just turn up, quote a name and address and if you are not marked off the register as having voted you are given a ballot paper. This is something that could be tightened up on – no polling card, no ballot paper. There is no need to add a photo element to it.

The current system works fine as it is. There is no evidence of fraud and the UK Government should be challenged to provide it. If they can’t provide the proof there is no reason to change it.


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Will Reform of Social Care Ever Take Place?

In 1997 the then Prime Minister of the UK indicated that he “did not want children to be brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long term care is by selling their home.” Here we are 24 years later and we are no further forward on this subject.

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech  only indicated that reforms will be “brought forward” but no time scale. This is something the current Prime Minister promised he would fix when elected in December 2019. It is noted the health service in England will get more funding to encourage innovation, using technology, in the health care sector. Scotland will receive extra money from this but, it is up to the Scottish Parliament how to spend this extra money and it may not go on Scottish health services.

Currently social care is a local council remit not health service. It is not ring fenced and councils can slash social care budgets. The alternative is for Council Tax to go up or, in Scotland’s case, Scottish Income Tax levels to be increased along with Council Tax.

It is believed that a hospital bed costs £3,500 per week while a bed in a social care home is around £950 per week. This tends to be paid by family by selling family homes to make up a shortfall in local funding.

The Scottish Government won’t make changes as it doesn’t have the money and wants changes at UK level so that it gets the extra funding. It’s already struggling to fund free personal care for the elderly and I suspect raiding other budgets to do so.

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