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Is Net zero worth fighting for? Climate change in the age of emergency

September 18th 2023 @ 7:30 pm 9:00 pm

Dr Graeme Hayes, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Aston University

Net zero is everywhere. The UK has pledged to reach net zero by 2050; the NHS, by 2040; Birmingham City Council’s ‘route to zero’, by 2030; Birmingham Airport’s ‘flight to net zero’, by 2033. Extinction Rebellion demands the UK reach it by 2025. In contrast, the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of backbench Conservative MPs (along with others on the political right) wants the government to abandon the target, claiming it makes the UK uncompetitive. Recent decisions by the Sunak government over oil and gas leases in the North Sea, decisions which are also supported by the opposition, suggest that either net zero is heavily contested, is on the verge of being abandoned, or perhaps never meant very much anyway. Meanwhile, as individual citizens, we are encouraged to make our own carbon footprint calculations, and change our behaviours and choices so that we too can reduce or ‘offset’ our emissions.

In this talk, Graeme will discuss competing narratives of supply and demand, resource use and keeping it in the ground, time and emergency. He’ll talk about what net zero means and what it doesn’t mean, what it tells us about climate change and what it leaves unsaid, why calculating carbon footprints is helpful and also why it isn’t, and argue that net zero is a terrible idea which could probably only be made worse by abandoning net zero.

He’ll end by asking exactly where this leaves us – and what the role of protest and collective citizen action might be.

St Patricks Irish Club

4 Adelaide Road
Leamington Spa, CV31 3PW

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