Don’t budge from the budget. The responsibility of intellectuals yet again

We need to put front and centre the fact that we’ve blown our (carbon) budget. “We’re massively off target we’re massively behind.”

We know that those who run official events are not going to say it front and centre (at absolute best they might mutter it under their breath while making sure that their microphone is turned off, while everyone is getting a coffee).

Therefore, whatever else we are planning to say, whatever else we are expected/allowed to say, we need to be absolutely clear.

The Council made a big show of setting a carbon budget for the city as a whole in 2018. A budget for the rest of the 21st century, our fair share, Paris blah blah.

The Council derived its PR boost from that.

Last year they tried to bury the inconvenient facts that a quarter of the city’s budget for the entire 21st century has been blown in two years on page 18 of a glossy “blonde-moppets” report.

And since then, it’s not been a case of zero carbon, but zero emergency meetings about the carbon budget blow out.

Instead they talk in loose vague terms about challenges ahead, while commissioning new reports.

Ooh, look, here’s a pretty picture of us driving an electric bin lorry. A photo op in a pandemic? That’s fine. We’re the Council!

On budgets. It’s the area under the curve that matters, as Professor Kevin Anderson has told them again and again and again. The rapid cuts need making now. They can’t be punted.

They. Are. Not. Being. Made.

Tough decisions are being punted. Tough conversations are not being had.

Look, here. We wrote a letter about divestment!!

And in a couple of months the new figures will come out. And even with COVID, it will be that we have blown about a third of the century’s budget in three years.

And there will be zero emergency meetings about the budget blow out.

Those who are able to speak at these events have a responsibility to tell the truth and expose lies. The expose lies bit can be properly career-limiting, obvs. But the truth-telling? The stating the bald facts baldly? That’s sine qua non.

In a couple of years the whole idea of a 15Mt carbon budget for the city will just be another forgotten promise, a wreck in the junkyard, a corpse in the graveyard. Another missed target. There have been so many.

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