Guardian eco-scribe, George Monbiot, is in a mood to litigate an end to fossil energy power generation in the UK.
Far from building new fossil power plants, the survival of a habitable planet means retiring the damaging projects that have already been built. Electricity plants burning coal and gas and oil will not secure our prosperity. They will destroy it.
But everywhere special interests dominate. Construction projects are driven, above all, by the lobbying of the construction industry, consultancies and financiers. Gigantic and destructive schemes, such as the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, are invented by lobbyists for the purpose of generating contracts. Political support is drummed up, and the project achieves its own momentum; then, belatedly, a feeble attempt is made to demonstrate that it can somehow become compatible with environmental promises. This is what destroys civilisations: a mismatch between the greed of economic elites and the needs of society.Monbiot et al are energized by last week's decision of the Court of Appeal to nix the long-awaited third runway at Heathrow airport.
The Heathrow decision stands as a massive and crucial precedent. Now we must use it to insist that governments everywhere put our survival first, and the demands of corporate lobbyists last. To this end, with the Good Law Project and Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, I’m pursuing a similar claim. In this case, we are challenging the UK government’s policy for approving new energy projects.
On Tuesday, we delivered a “letter before action” to the Treasury solicitor. We’ve given the government 21 days to accept our case and change its policy to reflect the climate commitments agreed by parliament. If it fails to do so, we shall issue proceedings in the high court to have the policy declared unlawful. We’ll need money, so we’ve launched a crowdfunding appeal to finance the action.It sounds far fetched, almost wild-eyed, but it's really not. Eventually, albeit perhaps too late, we will have what Schellnhuber called an "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industry. Government will at some point begin shutting down the carbon economy and pushing the transition to alternative, non-carbon energy. It'll be a "we can't go on like this" divorce and it could be protracted and ugly.