11 climate change election non-issues

Inspired by an excellent Stumbling and Mumbling post of economic questions that aren’t big election issues but should be, here are some difficult climate change questions that aren’t featuring in the election but perhaps should be:


1. Are we prepared for everyone to pay more for less obtrusive sources of renewable energy like offshore wind farms, so that a relatively small number of people don’t have to look at electricity plants they don’t like, particularly onshore wind farms?  If so, how much more should everyone pay?


2. How can we continue to expand airports while meeting our emissions targets? If we do continue with expansion where would we make up for the increased emissions? If we don’t, what does that mean for jobs and investment in the UK?


3. Do we need to reduce the amount we travel, internationally and within the UK? If so, how can we do that in a way that doesn’t disproportionately restrict poorer people who’ve benefited from budget airlines?


4. Do we need to discourage growth in particular sectors to achieve our climate targets? If so, which sectors and what will we do to create alternatives for the people affected? And would doing so actually reduce global emissions or just move them to other countries?


5. Are we prepared to make some inconvenient changes to everyday life to reduce emissions, like keeping our homes at lower temperatures, switching to electric central heating and having cars that’re less powerful and with shorter ranges? If so, how can we make sure the burden doesn’t fall most heavily on poorer people and particularly people who would be most affected by lower room temperatures?


6. When we build new homes, should we avoid areas that are more likely to flood when the climate changes? If so, what level of overall global warming should we plan for when we do this? And how can we overcome the increased difficulty this would put on building enough new homes? If not, who will cover the cost when we build in areas that become frequently flooded as the climate changes?


7. What shall we do with existing communities, agricultural land and infrastructure that are flooded more often as climate change increases?  Can we afford to always improve defences and clean up after floods, or will we need to abandon some areas? Who decides?


8. Who is responsible for preparing for the effects of increased heatwaves on the elderly and vulnerable? Do we need to take measures to reduce overheating in housing? Should we be preparing community shelters? Who pays?


9. Where should the UK be in terms of its emissions reductions? Should we be at the front to encourage other countries to make bigger cuts, or should we be somewhere in the middle of the high-emitting countries even if that means global cuts are slower?


10. If the UK’s emissions appear to be falling because we make less and import more, are our emissions cuts meaningful? Should we be accountable for the emissions from the production and transport of what we import?


11. Are we – and other countries that have emitted the most greenhouse gases – responsible for the damage caused by the climate change we’re already committed to? If so, do we need to make amends, eg by paying compensation, paying for non-emitting countries to adapt to climate change, taking in refugees where adaptation is impossible?


I’m sure there are plenty more. What have I missed?

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting Long Read by Larry Elliot in the Guardian today discusses some of these, particularly 1 & 11: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/apr/08/can-world-economy-survive-without-fossil-fuels

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