Denial Culture – ‘We Need More Oil to Have Less Oil’
As we discuss INEOS and Grangemouth here’s where we actually are. We’re heading towards nearly 3C of catastrophic temperature rises. But in just one year, the British government has greenlit a new coal mine, the biggest undeveloped oil field in North Sea, and over 100 new oil and gas licences. Yet your media champions politicians who tell you the problem is ‘heat pumps’.
This is the week we were told that “the world is on track for a “hellish” 3C of global heating”, as the UN issued a report before the Cop28 climate summit that begins next week in the United Arab Emirates. The report found that today’s carbon-cutting policies are so inadequate that 3C of heating would be reached this century.
The UN Environment Programme (Unep) report said that to get on track for the internationally agreed target of 1.5C, 22bn tonnes of CO2 must be cut from the currently projected total in 2030, the report said. That is 42% of global emissions and equivalent to the output of the world’s five worst polluters: China, US, India, Russia and Japan.
We need rapid deep and structural change and instead we are faced with not just inertia but new forms of reactionary climate populism – like we see in Scotland – and in more extreme forms in the Netherlands and Argentina.
As The Ferret laid out the carbon dioxide emissions from Grangemouth were in (first figures 2019/ second figures for 2020):
Petroineos oil refinery, Grangemouth
Ineos chemical plant, Grangemouth
Ineos combined heat and power station, Grangemouth
That’s a vast emissions output that has barely been mentioned in any of the coverage of the crisis. We desperately need a transition to clean energy for hundreds of workers in Grangemouth, and to create viable sources of income for the community – but we also need to rapidly shift Scotland’s status as a minor petro-state that benefits little from it’s polluting fossil fuels. The debate is trapped between normalised denial and constitutional inertia on the one hand (business as usual) and plans and policies that rarely seem to get off the ground, that either lack political power, financial resource or real aspiration for the change needed.
“Emissions are still rising, we’re on pace for 3°C of warming, millions of species are on the brink of extinction, & the media, politicians & many scientists still act like green growth exists & capitalism will solve the ecological crisis. We live in a denial society.” – Andrew Ahern
As we can see the climate crisis is being weaponised by the populist right (and shards of the weird left) to manipulate this situation That is why it is vital that, as Jonathan Watts has said (The Great Carbon Divide):
“We need a political discourse that is class conscious, that recognises that the rich and capitalism are the major drivers of the climate crisis. This is about bringing production – and provisioning systems and energy systems – under democratic control.”
and to recognise this reality … “At the top is the wide, flat, very shallow bowl of the richest 10% of humanity, whose carbon appetite – through personal consumption, investment portfolios, and share of government subsidies and infrastructure benefits – accounts for about 50% of all emissions.”
The richest 1% of the population produced as much carbon pollution in one year as the 5 billion people who make up the poorest two-thirds.
WE are told to put our faith in the COP process. Yet as we witnessed at first hand in Glasgow this process has been captured. As Kevin Anderson says we are facing massive failure:
“It has come to something where we see a major oil producer overseeing the COP process, not only overseeing it but in their statements saying … their statements are just similar to what we’re hearing from ministers in the US the UK and elsewhere where they say “we need more oil to let us have less oil” … we’ve got a position where its completely Orwellian … the structures that we now have and the narratives that we now have …that we can now have people seriously stand up with a serious face, reported by journalists that we need to have ‘more oil to have less oil’.
To be clear ‘we need to have more oil to have less oil’ is precisely the arguments we are faced with every day in mainstream Scottish and UK politics … What follows is a major challenge to journalists everywhere:
This is terrifying. You should be terrified.
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