I always took it as a given that climate scientists always spoke truth to power. Now I'm not so sure.
Kevin Anderson is a professor of energy and climate change. He contends that British climate scientists are failing to give their government the hard facts.
“Academics have done an excellent job in understanding and communicating climate science, but the same cannot be said in relation to reducing emissions,” said Anderson. “Here we have collectively denied the necessary scale of mitigation, running scared of calling for fundamental changes to both our energy system and the lifestyles of high-energy users."
“Many senior academics, senior policymakers, basically the great and good of the climate world have decided that it is unhelpful to rock the status quo boat and therefore choose to work within that political paradigm – they’ll push it as hard as they think it can go, but they repeatedly step back from questioning the paradigm itself.”
“On mitigation, the academic community and the CCC [the UK government's Committee on Climate Change] have collectively failed the political realm and civil society by tailoring our conclusions to fit with what we judge to be politically palatable – all at the expense of scientific integrity.”When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, Anderson points the finger at the real villains, the rich.
“Globally the wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all emissions, the wealthiest 20% for 70% of emissions. If regulations forced the top 10% to cut their emissions to the level of the average EU citizen, and the other 90% made no change in their lifestyles, that would still cut total emissions by a third.
“If we were serious about this crisis we could do this in a year – if we were really serious we could do it in a month, but we are not and our emissions just keep rising.”