Extinction Rebellion will be having one of their often very aggressive protest demonstrations this week. They are usually loud on what they don’t like but quiet on solutions. They certainly tell us who they don’t like – it includes people like me who spent my whole career working for an oil company!
The key consideration in almost any public policy issue is to have a realistic grip on timescale. For climate change and its effects that timescale is very long term indeed. Some actions taken today may not have any noticeable effects for a decade or more. Politicians doing “good things” want instant results so that they can boast about them. Equally they are reluctant to take tough decisions that could be electorally unpopular. So there’s often a lot of hot air, but very little action.
We could cut road mileage by 4% overnight as the Tony Blair Institute suggests if we had the guts substantially to raise tax/duty on road fuels (petrol and diesel). Blair himself introduced a freeze on tax increases in the light of protests. This measure would be fair in that the biggest polluters (high mileage drivers) would have the biggest incentive to reduce their journeys, switch to public transport or electric vehicles.
Extinction Rebellion are either ignorant or disingenuous (probably both) in attacking Oil companies. These corporations are very small scale polluters themselves and their activities are very energy efficient. It is Big Oil’s customers that are the contributors to climate change – that’s you and me by the way. The days of oil companies creating demand are long gone. Their role is to satisfy demand not create it. This fact is largely ignored by the protesters as Shell, BP or Exxon are easier targets.