November 2019 – Plant
Exactly how a 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl managed to focus so many people’s attention on the ‘climate emergency’ is hard to explain, but there’s no doubt that a very large proportion of the UK population has responded enthusiastically to Greta Thunberg’s call for widespread panic.
So when did climate change become an emergency? Even before the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997 I was reporting on action by successive UK governments to mitigate climate change, including frequent – indeed almost routine – revisions of Part L of the Building Regulations to impose increasingly onerous energy conservation measures. The UK has done more than almost any other major economy to address the problem.
The Extinction Rebellion demonstrators, shaken abruptly from their innocent slumber by Greta’s wake-up call, acted swiftly and climbed onto the roof of Tube trains to disrupt one of the UK’s more energy-efficient transport systems. Actress Dame Emma Thompson also heeded the call, flying 5,400 miles from LA to London to upbraid her adoring fans for their shameful lifestyles and bloated carbon footprints. That’s what panicking does for you.
Meanwhile, with perfect composure, those polluting capitalist fat-cats at JCB, Volvo et al have been investing millions to develop zero-emission battery-powered construction equipment (see p38). And boffins in Cambridge are calmly working on a process to extract carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into building materials (News, p7).
So, to quote Corporal Jones: “don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring!”