It's actually just green capitalism, and that won't save us.

COP26 is upon us, in a few weeks leaders from across the world will meet in Glasgow to discuss tackling the climate crisis and make plenty of promises on how they're going to work hard to mitigate the climate crisis, one of the biggest threats faced by humanity in our short history on this planet.

Ahead of this, with a lot expected of them as host of this year's COP, the UK government this week released their Net Zero Strategy, the most ambitious plan yet to tackle the climate crisis and reach net zero by 2050. But what does it actually say? And will it work?

Well, there's a lot of good talk in the 368 page document (you can read the whole thing here), talk of building back better from COVID, "levelling up" the UK, talk on how the UK needs to lead the way on climate action, and an awful lot of self congratulation. And to be fair, it is the most ambitions plan to date from the UK Government, with some plans and promises in there that have me going "yep, this is needed, this is quite good" but it is definitely not ambitious enough, and there are a lot of glaring holes in the plans.

Now, I could go through all the big and small points of this plan, and weigh up how good each bit is, whether it will work, and what's missing. But experts in their fields have already done a good job of this, and I don't think most of my readers want that level of detail from me. So let's talk about the surface of this plan, the glaring issue with this whole deal which can be found just in the introduction of the report and Boris' foreword. It reads:

"We will unleash the unique creative power of capitalism to drive the innovation that will bring down the costs of going green"

Isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place? From the last industrial revolution? Are we really going to find salvation in the very system that caused this?

He continues:

"In 2050 we will still be driving cars, flying planes, and heating our homes, but our cars will be electric gliding silently around our cities, our planes will be zero emission allowing us to fly guilt-free, and our homes will be heated by cheap reliable power.."

So, yet again it's business as usual from UK Government. They want to have their cake and eat it too, cut emissions, grow the economy, with absolutely no change to daily life for the average citizen here in the UK. But is that possible? Many experts argue no. There has been talk for decades on the need to work towards degrowth, towards a more circular economy where we consume less, especially in the global North. But this Government don't agree with that, and it really shows in their net-zero plan.

It is incredibly naive to think that we can tackle the climate crisis, one of the biggest issues humanity has ever faced, without there being any change at all to our daily lives. That relying on the same capitalist system that got us into this mess will magic us out again? While still expanding the fossil fuel industry? Does that sound false to anyone else? It does to me.

Oh, and this plan even falls short of Boris' promises. Somehow we'll fly guilt-free when there's only a commitment to 10% of aviation fuel being sustainable by 2030. We'll heat out homes with cheap electricity yet there's only marginal funding for 90,000 heat pumps (0.3% of UK homes) and very little plan for any other infrastructure.

Another note on this foreword, because I can't put this statement on here without pointing this out: "Cars will drive silently around our cities"? This has already been recognised as incredibly dangerous for pedestrians', especially those with visual impairments with Boris' own government bringing in rules to fit acoustics into electric cars.

This plan misses out the most marginalised people in society, ignores the fact that people are facing the impact of the climate crisis right now, it's just capitalism but make it green. Business as usual, but electric. No thank you, I want more than that from our future.

Do we really want life to continue as it currently is in the UK? Is that really as ambitious as the UK government can be? 

Rather than being able to drive "guilt free" around my city I would love to be able to cycle safely across it, to reach every part of the UK on affordable public transport, to walk home in the dark without fearing for my safety. I want to live in a country that supports people getting out and about more, connecting back with the natural world, one that is more equitable, that cultivates community, supports local, where we have to work less, buy less, where we get to enjoy life more. Where climate justice is at the forefront. Where the UK is part of a global system tackling the climate crisis and looking after those already facing its effects while mitigating future issues. This is the kind of world I am working towards, not one where we keep living the same just with... less guilt? 

We could have so much more than what this government is offering as their most ambitious plan to date. Not just a lower emissions life but a better life.

But no, this government wants life to stay the same for us all... just electric and with more jobs? How boring, how uninspiring honestly.

So while this net zero plan is a step towards a lower emission future, is a step further in the right direction than we're seen so far, it's definitely not ambitious enough to tackle the climate crisis and leaves me wanting to much more. Yet again the UK Government are peddling the idea of saving the world with business as usual, can we retire that already please? Can we work towards a better world?

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