The problem is economic growth
For for example, investing in renewables is a great idea and reduces carbon from fossil fuels. However, economic growth means producing more, using more natural resources, and contributing to emissions as well as pollution and biodiversity loss, thus thwarting any benefits.
Currently proposed strategies are useful. The switch to renewable energies, the insulation of houses and many proposals in a Basic Green New Deal are better than nothing, but are far from sufficient.
The planting of trees, or more precisely, the overall management and restoration of nature-based solutions through landscapes and seascapes, are probably the most effective single option in the list of sound clips above, but still far from sufficient.
Even with a significant investment in restoring forests, peatlands and many other habitats, as well as ocean sequestration of all of Britain’s overseas territories, total carbon sequestration for the UK would amount to no offset only about 30 percent of the UK’s current emissions.
To make the biggest difference, transitions to renewables, insulation, better public transport (probably electrified, but thinking beyond cars) and nature-based solutions must be accompanied by taxes on the land. transformative carbon and the end of fossil fuel subsidies.
Economic recovery and stimuli are of course big news after the Covid pandemic. Curbing economic growth sounds like – or is meant to be – a terrible idea.
However, some simple extensions of our published models show that investment in local jobs in key areas like renewables, renovating home insulation and conserving energy and nature is beneficial.
This investment can lead to the changes needed to improve environmental conditions, including climate change and dramatically reduce socio-economic inequalities – for example by delivering economic benefits to those who need them most.
But this is only the case when investment in local jobs is accompanied by economic measures such as reducing fossil fuel subsidies and carbon taxation.
Careful planning for additional jobs, such as manufacturing green products to support renewable energy and home improvements, and low impact jobs, such as social jobs, will further reduce inequalities while providing a system that offers real environmental gains.
Transformative reforms need to be taken seriously if we are to tackle the multiple environmental crises we are currently facing.
Strong, well-presented and communicated science and social science, along with large-scale environmental campaigns can really change the discourse on environmental issues.
For example, groups like Extinction Rebellion and School Strike for Climate, as well as influential IPCC reports, changed the narrative of environmental issues from plastic pollution to climate change in recent years.
We now need campaign groups to unite around comprehensive plans to New green offers. In northern countries, these plans must include large-scale economic changes such as carbon taxes, integrate nature-based solutions and provide opportunities for new post-Covid jobs.
Beyond the Global North, where per capita emissions are much lower, transformation plans can enable economic growth without increasing carbon emissions.
The countries of the South should therefore have the freedom but be financially supported in develop their own plans, which take into account cultural differences from developed countries and do not exploit land or resources.
Rick Stafford, Ellie Jones and James Sokolnicki are based in Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Bournemouth.