Full Council yesterday. This municipal year every full Council meeting has started with an external speaker on a subject of topical interest. Yesterday Council members were blitzed with a truly shocking and apocalyptic address from Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Energy Programme at the University of Manchester. Professor Anderson is a scientist working in the field of climate change, and what he told us is that a world that is still talking about containing average temperature increases to 2degreesC, is sleep-walking towards 4degreesC and possibly even higher with disastrous consequences for the planet as we know it. It's not just Kevin that think that as he cited sources, rather sober and conservative sources, like the President of the World Bank, who think similarly.
One of the devices that governments use to put off decision making is the use of 2050 targets for reducing carbon emissions, and Professor Anderson made the point that carbon emitted now will still be in the atmosphere by 2050, and if we want to have any chance of keeping the rise between 2 and 4degrees we have to act now.
We can't do that by simply bringing in alternative low/no carbon energy supplies. We have to do that but the scale of investment required and the length of time to deliver that would mean that only tackling the supply side would be too late. We need to tackle demand and we can do things about that immediately and that probably means everybody reading this blog. It doesn't mean everybody. I might not get the figures quite right but around 50% of the emissions in this country are caused by less than 5% of the population and it's not the poorest in our society. As the recent Great Manchester Poverty Commission Report made clear, a report Professor Anderson described as a report about low carbon people written by high carbon people, there is a fundamental issue of equity here. It is rich people, rich countries that have to turn down the lights.
I'm sure there are other climate change scientists who would take issue with some even much of what Kevin said, but how much of a gamble do we want to take with our future and our childrens future?