I say to all those who write to me wanting to make faster progress to net zero two things. This needs to a world wide movement, as the main producers of CO 2 currently are China, the USA and EU, and the main growth comes from China and India. It can only succeed if it is a popular revolution, as for success it requires everyone in the world with a gas or coal heating system, with an ICE vehicle, with a meat diet, with a wish to travel by plane to change the way we live our lives.
Popular revolutions have been common in my lifetime to date. There was the revolution in advanced country living standards based on the arrival of the phone, the car, the washing machine and the fridge as the commonplace of each household rather than the privileges of the few in the later decades of the last century. This century has seen the digital revolution rush to success on a wave of popular buying and support. So many people have afforded a mobile phone or a home computer or pad, because they wanted the on line services these gadgets can bring. It took no government subsidy, no bans on rival products, no endless exhortation by Ministers to power the revolution. Mighty corporations, mainly American arose and vowed the public, with Amazon’s all conquering on line shopping, Alphabet’s far reaching searches and information, Microsoft’s near universal software, Apple’s dominance in equipment and Facebook/Meta’s ways of people talking to each other by internet.
So the Green revolution will succeed when it has the products and services that fly off the shelves because they serve us better and are affordable. Instead of governments taxing, regulating and lecturing us on what we have to do to get CO 2 down, they should be creating the conditions where companies can emerge that vow us with the new ideas. I would like a heat pump heating system for my London flat but am told there isn’t one that I can buy as I cannot place a box outside my window on the side of the building. If there is a supplier out there that can help me let me know. I have just bought a modern replacement gas boiler for my home because the heat pumps were far too dear to install and to run and would not necessarily heat to the same standard as gas. Where are the electric heating systems that are better and no dearer than the gas ones most of us use? What is the point of a heat pump if you operate it on a cold day when most of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels as it uses a lot of electricity?
The refusal of around half of UK households to readily take up the offer of a “free ” smart meter shows the revolution has a long way to go to be truly popular as the digital one is. Many people fear the new electricity system will mean dearer and less reliable power, and fear the smart meter will come to control or manipulate them in ways they do not want.