At a time when we need it most, the political consensus on climate is in jeopardy Science and technology news


In the early 1980s, the US labor movement coined the term “just transition”.

Clean air and water laws, which the country had supported for health and environmental reasons, had resulted in thousands of Americans losing their jobs.

If society is to benefit from environmental protection, as the “just transition” argument has it, governments must ensure that the livelihoods they disrupt or destroy are created elsewhere.

The term has become fashionable among today’s environmentalists.

Without the promise of a “just transition,” how can consensus be achieved and urgent progress made on the massive societal changes we must make to avert climate catastrophe?

And yet it is Thursday An example of this is the result of the Uxbridge by-election that this test failed. And it could prove costly.

The Conservative candidate won the election after campaigning against the Labor mayor of London’s polluting Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

Cleaner air in London would benefit everyone, especially the poorest, but how can the poorest who depend on a car afford to replace it without help now when living standards are at their lowest in at least a generation?

Whether or not ULEZ policies will prove unfair to the poorest is a matter of debate. But the Conservatives’ campaign benefited from people’s understandable fear that they were expected to give up too much – at a time when they could least afford it.

The Another is the Just Stop Oil campaign.more extreme example.

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded in August

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Frustrated by the lack of political progress and motivated by the undeniable urgency to reduce fossil fuel emissions, protesters in safety vests, throwing paint and glitter are trying to force action by making other people’s lives temporarily miserable.

Whether traffic delays or tennis matches – their goal is to force politicians to treat fossil fuels harshly.

Unfortunately, in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, targeting the common people seems to be pushing politicians to do the opposite.

Rishi Sunak’s government has already been accused of having an ambivalent attitude towards net zero. Now some in the Conservative Party are trying to weaponize anti-Just Stop Oil anger to attack Labour.

In response, Labor also remained fairly calm on the net-zero issue, responding to ULEZ’s by-election defeat by saying: Politicians need a rethink.

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ULEZ expansion “difficult but right decision”

After years of political consensus that bold action is needed to reach net-zero as soon as possible, it looks like both parties will end up shelving, or at least downplaying, green action for fear of losing the votes of those who feel it will make them the biggest losers.

And that is a major political failure, especially as the world appears to be on track for the hottest year on record.

It’s become a bit of a cliché, but the rebuilding of the economy needed to avoid even greater climate extremes offers the opportunity to create new jobs and a healthier future. Exactly what most people in the UK would fairly expect their government to do.

But right now, it looks like we’re moving away from that future, not toward it.

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