The story so far: a latter-day Childrens Crusade fronted by a cynically manipulated little Swedish girl, coupled with large-scale childish behaviour on the streets of London from grown adults who ought to know better, has made some raucous political music with demands for completely infeasible actions against UK CO2 emissions - specifically, zero CO2 by 2025. Among several organisations to seize this opportunity, the Commitee on Climate Change (headed by the conflicted and disreputable "Lord Deben") rushed out its proposal for 'Net Zero Carbon by 2050'.
These recommendations, properly viewed (i.e. politically viewed) were an absolute Godsend for the beleagured Tory government.
- Deben immediately defused the 2025 nonsense. He is the man fronting an enormous report that had loads of pretty respectable input++ from business, industry, real scientists etc; and they all agree 2050 itself is quite stretch. Deben was actually asked about 2025 on the telly, and he was contemptuously dismissive.
- Consistent with 1 above, net-zero-2050 is notably more demanding (in the form the CCC wrote it) than any other nation has committed thus far. Plenty of rich political capital can be coined from this.
- Nonetheless, 2050 is, well, rather a long way into the future ... a pretty decent entry into the Can-Kicking Championships
- Although the Labour Party greatly hoped to be steering the limelight towards itself, the best it could do in response was to replace "by 2050" with "before 2050". (This is because some of them are seriously bidding for Actual Power, and fondly expect to be the ones to implement it. And they, too, reckon 2050 is a stretch.)
There would have been so many ways to big this up and wow da yoof. Top of the list would have been to say that the Deben proposals were not ambitious enough, and she was going to do something even more impressive: it wouldn't have been hard to come up with something. (For 2050, you can say whatever you fancy - everyone else does.) Nobody's going to vote against it in Parliament, are they?
Rather grumpily and with stupid caveats** that can be, and immediately are, used to damn her, she says "oh well, alright then". Why insert a 5-year review? Parliament can always review and change any legislation it fancies. And anyway, 5-years-hence is Not Her Problem! Why allow the buying of carbon credits to count towards the total? This is so easily portrayed as a nasty little weasel (which indeed it is - international carbon credits are as bent as a nine-bob note); and again, 2050 is a long, long way off! Details not required!
As every wise parent knows, when the kids have been kicking up for Disney and you've decided to take them, you don't say: oh alright, bloody Disney it is, but you're not going on Space Mountain, there will be no ice cream, and at half-term I'm going to ask your teachers if you've been working hard, 'cos if you haven't I'm cancelling the tickets.
Oh dear. She ain't gonna enjoy her retirement.
++ We can discuss this another time
** This is said to be Hammond's doing - like so much of what has been baleful over the last three years. His long-faced 'trillion pounds' objection is just rubbish. Presumably, like an extensive line of men before him - Osborne, Hollande, Selmayr, Robbins ... the list goes on - he sat her down and told her sternly what she had to do.