What we learned this week

Last year my brother and I spent a long train journey inventing a card game called Carbon Zero, with plans to refine it and pitch it to an agency as an educational tool. You snooze you lose, and here’s 10:10’s educational Carbon City Zero card game owning it on Kickstarter. Still, at least I know what to get my brother for Christmas.

The Correspondent, the subscription based news service that promises a transparent, community owned approach to ‘unbreaking news’, launched this week in English.

The Campaign for Better Transport is celebrating the news that the government will create a national strategy for buses next year. This is indeed good news, as bus transport is the greenest form of motorised transport and has been neglected for years.

Scotland is looking at how to ease the planning rules for green infrastructure such as electric car charging points and renewable energy. This is what the British government have been trying to do for fracking, and as usual Scotland is leading on the renewable energy transition.

“Gambling on a future of continued economic growth is a bad bet with long odds and extremely high stakes” argue Ian Christie, Ben Gallant and Simon Mair on OpenDemocracy.

This coming week is Extinction Rebellion’s next big action, across Westminster in London. I will be with friends from Christian Climate Action on the Faith Bridge, and with XR Luton on the East of England site. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.


  1. As for XR’s ‘next big action’, see this from Ridge on Sunday this morning: https://twitter.com/RidgeOnSunday/status/1180763182777929729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1180763182777929729&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fblogs.spectator.co.uk%2F2019%2F10%2Fsunday-shows-round-up-stephen-barclay-our-brexit-proposals-are-very-serious%2F. When Sarah Lunnon was asked what a victory for XR would look like, she replied: ‘A victory would be… the most extreme carbon reduction target possible – zero carbon by 2025… and a citizen’s assembly. Because if we don’t do that we don’t have a future.’ You’ve said recently that ‘I don’t need any convincing that XR is asking for the impossible’. And that’s plainly correct: far from being ‘possible’ as Sarah Lunnon seems to think, the 2025 ‘demand’ is wholly unachievable. And, even if the were possible and the UK acted accordingly, the impact on the global situation would hardly be noticed. Therefore her comment that ‘if we don’t … we don’t have a future’ is as absurd as the 2025 demand.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on this website, by encouraging people and particularly young and impressionable people onto the street in pursuit of hopelessly impossible demands, XR is acting irresponsibly. Yet you support them. Why?

      1. In calling for ‘zero carbon by 2025… and a citizen’s assembly’ Ms Lunnon is repeating basic XR demands: go to their website or see the slogans on the banners being held up in London yesterday. Unless you’re saying that you now disassociate yourself from XR’s demands (do you?) it’s clearly legitimate for me to ask why you support XR’s irresponsible action in encouraging people and particularly young and impressionable people onto the street in pursuit of hopelessly impossible demands,

        1. I think your suggestions, based on a “scepticism” about the science, are the ones that are irresponsible.

          When the school strikers take to the streets and say they feel betrayed by the inaction of older generations, it’s people like you that they’re talking about – so don’t lecture me about young people.

          Yesterday I was on the streets with folks who are risking their freedom for their grandchildren, and who are responding in their retirement to a climate crisis they more or less ignored in their working lives. That’s the kind of eldership I respect, and the kind of people I have time for – not those who are spending their retirement working against climate action on the internet.

          Sorry if that’s blunt, but you waste my time Robin.

          1. I suspect your intemperate response was prompted by my comment having touched a sensitive spot. Two points:

            1.You know as well as I do that net-zero by 2025 is quite impossible and that even an attempt to implement it would cause dreadful hardship – especially for the most vulnerable.

            2. You also know that emission reduction is a global issue and that countries that are the source of about 75% of emissions are not seriously interested in doing anything about it. Unless that’s reversed, emissions will continue to increase whatever we do here in the UK. So that’s where action should be focused. Yet you seem to have no ideas about how that might be done.

            Despite all this, you’re encouraging well-meaning but impressionable (mainly) young people to abandon their education and take to the streets in the false belief that, by demanding what you know is impossible, they’re doing something for their grandchildren. I’m sorry Jeremy but I regard that as irresponsible.

            PS: as you know very well, I’m agnostic about climate science – very different from being a sceptic.

  2. Taking a friday off once a month is not ‘abandoning your education’. And nobody encouraged them – it was there idea, in the face of considerable adult disencouragement.

    I’m annoyed because I have specifically set out why the issue of possible/impossible isn’t relevant, and you keep raising it endlessly. I’ve written extensively about why action here matters regardless of what happens elsewhere. This too you ignore. I’ve said repeatedly that what I propose would not mean hardship for anyone. I might as well have not bothered.

    If your house is on fire, being agnostic about it the same thing as being sceptical about it. The end result is the same – you sit about arguing on the internet while your grandchildren’s world is destroyed. If you’re really agnostic, at least get out of the way of those that are trying to help.

    1. You say ‘what I propose would not mean hardship for anyone’. I accept that’s your position. But the implementation of XR’s second demand certainly would mean hardship. So what precisely do you propose?

      In that context (and re your inaccurate analogy), you may be interested in this Andrew Neil interview: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00095pr/the-andrew-neil-show-series-1-09102019. The relevant part starts at about 20 minutes.

    1. ‘You’ll have to challenge her over her opinions and me over mine’. Fair enough (although as a representative of XR she didn’t come over too well. But, as to your opinions, you haven’t answered my question. I accept that what you ‘propose would not mean hardship for anyone’: it’s a wholly respectable position. But I truly don’t understand what it is that you propose. As I’ve said, the implementation of XR’s second demand certainly would mean hardship. So what precisely do you propose?

        1. All I’m requesting is an answer to this simple question: what is it that you propose that’s so different from XR’s second demand that, whereas the implementation of that demand would cause hardship, your proposal wouldn’t?

    1. I didn’t say anything about a masterplan. XR has an unambiguous demand: ‘Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025’. If implemented, that would cause dreadful hardship. In contrast, you say: ‘what I propose would not mean hardship for anyone’. That contrast gives rise to my simple question: what is it that you propose that’s so different from XR’s demand?

  3. I’ve been over this. I don’t have the problems with attempting the impossible that you have, especially in the context of a citizen’s assembly that wouldn’t sanction the ‘dreadful hardship’ you think is inevitable.

    You’ll have to go and bother someone else now. I have other things to do.

    1. There are many examples of how net zero if implemented would bring dreadful hardship. Just one of them would be the withdrawal of the gas and oil used to heat homes (over 20 million), hospitals etc. But now you seem to be saying that XR would rely on the citizens’ assembly to ensure that that (and presumably all the other examples) wouldn’t actually be implemented.


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