My old friend Aubrey Meyer – one of the world’s most informed voices on climate change – has very kindly put up a page on his website which recounts some of the parliamentary activities on that subject he and I undertook in the 2000s. The framework Aubrey had developed, known as Contraction and Convergence, was the only logical and rational approach to defining a solution that I ever came across. It simply combined the principle of contracting greenhouse gas emissions to a scientifically defined ‘safe’ level whilst distributing the responsibility for achieving that goal on an equitable basis, which is to say by leading to a globally equalised per capita share of the problem. Whilst most politicians would give lip service to the former concept, the convergence part presented them with challenges. Nevertheless, to its credit the Labour government’s Climate Change Act did lift the Contraction and Convergence framework as its formula, although in typical fashion it was reluctant to acknowledge the source.
I now personally doubt that reducing carbon emissions alone will solve the problem. The multiplicity of global warming feedback mechanisms suggest that the climatic changes we face are irreversible. The hit and miss efforts (and money) to mitigate climate change will increasingly be redirected to adapting to it. The rich and poor divide will be exacerbated by climate change to an extent never witnessed before. Overly pessimistic? Just read the news.