The Three Stages of climate denial.

Stage 1 was to deny it’s existence at all. This was prominent from the 60’s to the 00’s. When the sceptics came up against the science and the overwhelming agreement of the scientific community they had to drop it.

Stage 2 was put forward by people like Bjorn Lomberg. This line was to accept the science but to argue the problem was not that big and we could adapt. This sceptic view was increasingly undermined by the weather and the 2015 Paris agreement.

Stage 3 – the current one is an extension of the second stage. It’s not to deny (on the face of it) the science but to argue that mitigation measures are too expensive especially at the moment. In the UK the argument is extended to our emissions versus China. Which is not really the point and whilst I’m not a great fan of the Chinese government (to put it mildly), assumes that they aren’t doing anything themselves. Some then move back to stages 1 and 2.

None of these stages are absolute and the boundaries between them are fluid. Nor to do any of them take any account of what is going on in the developing world where the effects of climate change has been obvious for years. Nor of course resource depletion – the advocates of oil and gas seem to think they go for ever.

This is all come to head in the UK since a series of bye-elections. One seat (Uxbridge) in outer London the Tories managed to hold onto (just) and the extension of the Low Emission Zone* to it was said to helped them keep the seat. Now both main parties are re-considering their green policies although the Tories seem to be doing it more than Labour.

Stage 3 is getting more prevalent for several reasons. Firstly since we’re getting closer to 2050 and it’s more difficult to kick the issue into the long grass and secondly since the easy to do stuff (the electricity system has been done (or is on an unstoppable course to being done since the main renewables used and now storage are so much cheaper than fossil fuels). (I say easy, but even de-carbonising the electricity supply has caused a degree of angst.) Although its easy for the general public, who use electricity as per usual. The next levels of de-carbonisation which involve heating and transport are much more tricky which is why they’re in the sceptics sights. We’ve seen push back from the people in trials of hydrogen boilers (they were right to be sceptical even if their reasons were wrong). Transport and heat come up against people having to make lifestyle changes and pay something themselves. Hence the problem.

The solution on heat pumps is to do what was done with PV. Have a grant scheme to get the industry and installer base up and running. Then go back to the renewable heat incentive which should be tapered from day one over 10 years to reflect falling costs. (No cliff edges unlike the FIT.) On Low Emission Zones and electric cars the current grants which seem generous on the face of it, need to be increased. The transition to net zero needs to be above all fair. Oh and see off stage 3 and there’s likely nothing left for them to fall back on.

* NOTE. This was a Tory act that has been forced on Labour councils in many cases and in London was kicked off by Boris Johnson when he was mayor. So it’s very hypocritical of them. It has to be said Siddiq Khan is going ahead with the extension and it has to be said that once these are introduced the polling evidence suggests they are quite popular as most motorists find they are unaffected.

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