Becker1999 from Grove City, OH, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

AS the Climate Emergency worsens, a group of climate scientists have issued a stark warning that, unless governments and industry adopt realistic targets, there will be no hope for any of us. Writing in Nature magazine, the scientists argue that targets need to be clear and based on science. 

Yet they reveal that of the 500 top greenhouse-gas-emitting companies only 22 have targets in line with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This failure to adopt science-based targets comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that the world is heading in the wrong direction on fossil fuels. Citing recent extreme weather events, including floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in Europe and many other parts of the world, he says that “humanity’s fossil fuel addiction” is the cause.

The climate scientists found that the top 200 cities with the largest greenhouse-gas emissions host the headquarters of 360 of the top 500 emitting companies. More than 50% of these cities and companies are in water-stressed areas, including Mexico City, Santiago, Beijing, Madrid, New Delhi, Rome, Istanbul and Phoenix, Arizona.

UK Rolling back on commitments

New UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss, a climate sceptic, made one of her first acts as Prime Minister to reintroduce fracking. In her first major speech following her elevation to PM she pledged that her priorities would be “dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply”. Most commentators regard that as a renewed commitment to fossil burning energy and a commitment to license more oil drilling.

Professor Myles Allen, Director of the Oxford Net Zero initiative, said in response: “Truss must also know how flood victims in Pakistan would react to Global Britain backtracking on its climate change commitments less than a year after cajoling the world into signing up to the Glasgow Climate Pact.”

Governments have known about the climate emergency since at least the nineteen eighties. They have avoided taking the actions that they know are needed because they have been more concerned to protect the profits of the fossil fuel companies. DeSmog, a campaign group, reported more than a year ago that fossil fuel companies were nine times more likely to have ministerial meetings than clean energy companies.

For those hoping for a radical Green New Deal from an incoming Labour government are likely to be disappointed, as Starmer has repudiated all the 2019 manifesto pledges. Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion are planning a weekend of activities on October 14th – 16th in another attempt to force the issue into people’s consciousness. Critical Mass continues to believe that it is not nuclear power or fossil fuel power that will save the environment but people power, and we urge people to support Extinction Rebellion.

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