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My lords, ladies and proles – Net Zero brainwashing will be based on Covid


WHO knew that the House of Lords had a Committee on Climate Change? I didn’t until I heard about the report published on October 12 titled In Our Hands: behaviour change for climate and environmental goals. It’s worth an examination to see just what these unelected, self-important individuals on the Upper House’s Environment and Climate Change Committee would like to impose on us proles. 

Right at the start we read in the summary that they consider there to be a twin crisis of climate change and nature loss which demands an immediate and sustained response. Analysis by the committee suggests that without behavioural change now the Net Zero target of 2050 is not achievable. Their lordships and ladyships have kindly identified for us that 32 per cent of emission reductions up to 2035 require decisions by individuals and households to adopt low-carbon technologies and choose low-carbon products and services as well as reduce carbon-intensive consumption. 

They think that polling shows that we are clamouring for leadership on this and are eagerly waiting to be told how to modify our behaviour to help achieve the 2050 target. They write that behavioural science evidence and best practice show that a combination of policy levers, including regulation and fiscal incentives, must be used by government, alongside clear communication, as part of a joined-up approach to overcome the barriers to making low-carbon choices. 

They go on: ‘Fairness is key to effective behaviour change and now more than ever must be at the heart of policy design. As the country faces a cost-of-living crisis, the Government must tailor behaviour change interventions to avoid placing a burden on those who can least afford it. The Government must also work with the many groups and organisations at different levels of society who have a critical role in securing behaviour change for climate change and the environment. Businesses are in a position to enable behaviour change through increasing the affordability and availability of greener products and services and engaging customers and employees, but need direction from government if they are to act against their immediate financial interests. Numerous civil society organisations and local authorities work tirelessly to deliver behaviour change projects on a local level, and their efforts should be both supported and celebrated better by central Government.

‘Lessons can be learned from both successful and unsuccessful behaviour change interventions in other policy areas. Most notably, the widespread behaviour change brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognise that the changes demanded by the pandemic were seen as a short-term response to a short-term emergency, nonetheless it will be a major missed opportunity if the Government does not seize the chance to evaluate behaviour change interventions implemented during the pandemic and apply lessons learned.’

Chapter 1 says they found that we cannot rely on large-scale and unproven technologies alone to achieve the transition to Net Zero. Behaviour change is also needed. This means the whole country needs to be engaged in this immense challenge – every government department, every layer of devolved and local government, every business, every charity, civil society group and faith community, and every household. Leadership and co-ordination from the Government are vital.

In Chapter 2, Behaviour Change: Why, What and Who, the report says that many witnesses said behaviour change is needed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to comply with international obligations under the Paris Agreement. Of course they did. They quote witness Sir Patrick Vallance, the government Chief Scientific Adviser (for it is he): ‘The reality is that behaviour change is a part of reaching Net Zero. It is unarguable.’ It seems we’re not even to be allowed to debate it.

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change stirs the pot too: Tim Lord, Associate Senior Fellow at the Institute, said: ‘There is not a counterfactual where we carry on as we are and everything is okay. A world of 2.5, 3 or 3.5 degrees of warming will also require significant behavioural changes in other respects.’

Chapter 3 details the public’s appetite for change. It starts by quoting the Tory MP and minister Greg Hands, who says: ‘We know that the public are keen to play their part. The BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker shows that 85 per cent of the public are concerned or, indeed, very concerned about climate change. That number has doubled since 2016.’ This is backed up by paragraphs detailing the wailing and gnashing of teeth, particularly among the young (just who was it who scared them?) They go on to claim that most of the UK public support some form of action by the Government and others to address climate change and environmental issues.

Subsequent chapters go on to discuss theories, drivers and levers of change, read-across from other policy areas, delivering behaviour change in partnership, challenges and opportunities, communications and the Government’s approach and role. You won’t be surprised to read that the infamous Behavioural Insights Team, or Nudge Unit, will be heavily involved.  

The report runs to 140 pages including appendices. It’s worth having a read if only to click on the links of the committee members so you can see just who is behind this and what their outside interests are. Lord (Peter) Lilley stands out as the only one fighting any rearguard action. He lost the vote 1-11.

Not to be outdone, the ‘independent’ Climate Change Committee (not to be confused with the HoL Committee on CC)  is getting in on the act of behavioural change too. Its report has been produced by Imperial College London (what could possibly go wrong?) It covers behavioural change in surface transport, aviation, domestic heating and shifting to ‘sustainable ‘diets (pass the mealworms).

An outlier but helping to pull this all together is the Human Behavioural Change Project, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and UCL among others, which is developing AI systems to scan, organise and interpret human behaviour-change literature. A few clicks on the website leads you, under Grant Holders, to the director, our communist friend Professor Susan Michie. Well, who’d have thought it? 

It’s probably a good idea to be up to date on this stuff, or at least have it downloaded and available, just so we know what’s coming down the track: this should enable adequate avoidance, non-compliance and/or resistance.

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Iain Hunter
Iain Hunter
Iain Murray Hunter is a former RAF officer/fighter pilot and retired airline pilot.

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