I think we should be focusing on the leadership gap. What we see in this report is yet another message from the real world to the politicians that is that we are not doing enough to tackle the problem. We have the technology that we need to solve the problem, and we know we can afford to use it. The real challenge, the real obstacle to getting on with solving it, is the fact that politicians are not yet stepping up to the plate and providing the leadership that is necessary to deploy those technologies and get on with the job.
I think that they are trying to hold on to a comfortable present, rather than deal with an uncomfortable future, and the problem is that means that they are trying to argue with physics of carbon in the atmosphere, and you can be reasonably confident that if it’s an argument between physics and politics, the politicians will lose. So, they are simply not using their ability to mobilise the resources of government effectively to deal with the problem. It’s a political failure, it’s not a failure of institutions. It won’t be a failure of the UNFCCC if we don’t go ahead. It won’t be a failure of the rest of the world. The business community, both finance and the corporate sector, are doing far more than is often recognised, but they can’t succeed in solving the problem, unless the politics is with them, and it is not at the moment.
I think politicians are concerned that they will get voted out, and I think there is a more of a concern to get the right headlines than to get the right outcome. But as we found out with COVID, actually, it is amazing, the public when they actually understand the problem, and my guess is they we do now understand the problem with climate change, because of all the events that have happened over the last two years that people have experienced in their own lives and on television, are much more willing to do things and to go along with things and that that actually deal with the problem, and that is certainly supported by the polling evidence. So, quite a lot of it is a failure of nerve by politicians. But then when you have politicians who come from parties with only a few hundred thousand members, maybe they know less than they think about the public will.
These are excepts from an interview for LBC. The full discussion can be heard here: