The UK government’s flagship home energy efficiency programme, the green deal, has all but ground to a halt, with just 33 plans signed in February. The latest figures for the policy, once vaunted as the biggest home retrofit since the war aimed at cutting energy bills for 14m homes, are by far the worst since the scheme began.
If global warming is not new, it is urgent: a subject that should never be far from our thoughts. Yet within 24 hours of the American association’s warning the British government’s budget confirmed that it no longer wanted to fight it. David Cameron, who once promised that if you voted blue you would go green, now appoints Owen Paterson, a man who is not just ignorant of environmental science but proud of his ignorance, as his environment secretary. George Osborne, who once promised that his Treasury would be “at the heart of this historic fight against climate change”, now gives billions in tax concessions to the oil and gas industry, cuts the funds for onshore wind farms and strips the Green Investment Bank of the ability to borrow and lend All of which is a long way of saying that the global warming deniers have won.
This week, with the chancellor presenting the penultimate budget of this Parliament, we are going to be inundated with economic and fiscal analysis and commentary. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually put off by this deluge of comment, because most of it belongs in the realm of what I have called “flat-earth economics”.
The end of the age of cheap abundant energy requires that we stop using anything like as much energy as we’ve been using in recent decades. Any approach to dealing with the crisis of our age that doesn’t start by using much less energy, in other words, simply isn’t serious.
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.