There is one good thing in Miliband’s programme, and it’s not new: Smart Metering. The more we know about the micro-details of energy usage, the greater the opportunities for smarter actions, of all kinds. Smart Metering will be one of the reasons why the reductions sought from homes, offices, shops and factories will, as we said yesterday, be feasible if not actually modest.
But when we read about using electricity (instead of gas) for space-heating; when we hear that Miliband has decided to go easy on the aviation industry because, you know, it’s every worker’s right to travel RyanAir for free; when he implies that (as the Grauniad puts it, in an editorial aptly entitled 'Green Dreams') it can all “be achieved without depriving people of the comforts of their present, carbon-intensive lives” - we know we’re in Wonderland.
And here’s another big flaw: there is no mention of the UK’s burgeoning population. Since we don’t know to within 5 million what it actually is today, and since Alan Johnson doesn’t much care what it’s going to be in future, how can little Miliband (or indeed any other Minister) plan intelligently ?
This may seem a minor point, but it leads to a bigger one: get a look at this (also from Miliband’s masterwork).
Global emissions are in any event predicted to peak in mid-century. This is because the global human population is predicted to peak then, too – it’s a demographic thing. This, at very least, gives serious pause for thought. In the interim, would several decades of serious amelioration / adaptation be a practical alternative to a very, indeed prohibitively, costly mitigation programme ? I’ve no idea, but I doubt it’s been seriously considered.
It needs to be, because Miliband’s strategy is a reductio ad absurdum. Assuming it's the Tories who will be handling the mess, they had better be working up Plan B.