Government advisers have set a course through the pandemic to net zero. Is Boris Johnson capable of following it?
The colossal challenge facing human civilisation, of ending our reliance on fossil fuels in short order, has almost certainly been made harder by the pandemic. Ever since scientists discovered that the Earth was warming as a result of human activity, it has been a struggle to get people, governments and businesses to do anything about it. Even in those countries least resistant to the evidence of rapidly approaching danger, something else was usually seen as more important. In the past few months, once again, the climate emergency has been knocked off the top of world leaders’ to-do list by the more immediate threat of the virus.
Recognising this, the environmental movement came up with the excellent idea of a green recovery. The annual report published on Thursday by the Committee on Climate Change, which provides official advice to the UK government, is a crucial, national component of that global effort. It sets out to tell Boris Johnson, his ministers and the British public how we can embed the lessons of Covid-19 in the next phase of carbon cuts.