How wonderful to have the elite try to lecture on our behaviours. Sir Ian Boyd, the UK Government’s chief climate scientist, has proclaimed that Brits must eat less meat, buy fewer clothes and reconsider heading off to Malaga on EasyJet during the summer break. He suggested that zero net emissions by 2050 will be unsustainable unless the government stops focusing on economic growth. Must have been talking to NZ PM Jacinda Ardern.
Unfortunately, politicians who run a campaign based on crimping economic growth won’t last very long in office when more constituents fall foul of such changes. Never mind, Sir Ian is likely to escape any hardships.
Sir Ian made reference to New Zealand, which has made a lot of effort to include wellness into the economic metrics. Despite the fact that evil Australia explicitly lacks “social wellbeing” in the wording of the official paperwork, CM has already shown the land down under outstrips NZ on a per capita basis across the desired metrics of mental health and so forth that Ardern champions.
Unfortunately, Sir Ian may get his wish, although not perhaps the way he intended. He can make reference to the fact we’re all consuming too much but the reality is that central banks have helped trade us into a corner that relies on front-loading ever more consumption to prevent the economy from imploding. Sadly, when the peons catch the brunt of this, they will be demanding the government dump environmental policies in favour of reviving the economy because marvelling at wind towers won’t fix their malaise. Jonathan Rochford of Narrow Road Capital sums this up nicely,
“Just as the first step for an alcoholic is to admit their addiction and the damage it has done, central banks need to start by admitting they have gone too far with monetary policy and have caused substantial economic damage. An apology is owed to savers that have been punished for their prudence and to a generation of young people that have been substantially disadvantaged in their quest to purchase property without incurring excessive levels of debt. Central banks also need to admit that they have tried to use monetary policy to solve problems it simply wasn’t suitable for.”
Everything is a trade-off. However, ceding more control and regulation to governments and central banks around the world that have failed us so terribly to date have no track record to be demanding even more restrictions.
That means if governments want to hit “zero emissions”, stop telling the public how they must comply. Refrain from telling auto-makers they must be all-electric by 2040. How about just giving them the target and letting them decide by what means they will overcome the technological hurdles. That is how ingenuity is created, not by some new quango that will impose ever greater restrictions for next to no palpable return other than inconvenience and shared misery.
Monty Python described it best in the Holy Grail. The Knights of Ni demanded that King Arthur chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. Sir Ian is expecting that of industry and the Britons themselves. Understandably the “It” word that eventually tortures the Knights of Ni to their demise is actually sustainable “economic growth.”