There was an interesting advert placed in some newspapers yesterday. It’s a call for the government to take its climate change promises seriously and stop ignoring the need to create a low-carbon economy. But it’s not from the green lobbying group or environmental charity you might expect. It’s from a coalition of businesses and NGOs that includes companies like Sainsburys, Ikea, Sky, Nestle and Pepsico.
There are a couple of interesting things here. A lot of people have suggested that it will be business that ends up leading action against climate change, rather than government. That seems to be the case here, and the ad gives us some reasons why – maintaining energy security, and the need for certainty when investing.
That’s very positive. What’s a little tricker from my perspective is that the ad makes a case for a low carbon economy because it will be good for growth. They’re right that it would create jobs and opportunities in a low carbon sector, but no country has managed to decouple economic growth and carbon emissions at the speed required for a safe climate. As I’ve explored in detail before, it’s really not possible to reconcile a growing economy with falling emissions and still prevent dangerous climate destabilisation.
That’s a minority view, and I’m not surprised that business would want to pursue decarbonisation as a growth strategy. But until we realise that growth in rich countries is impossible in an age of climate change, we’re really no closer to a solution.