Social Consent and Cognitive Dissonance

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I hope that whoever is in charge of ensuring that the UK's climate change policy is both technologically sound and socially feasible is paying attention to what’s going on in Germany, France, Poland, Romania, The Netherlands and elsewhere where social protests have erupted because climate change policies have gone much beyond public support for them. 

But I doubt that is the case as no one seems to be responsible for both these things.  I suppose that it’s just possible that the first is being taken care of by the Department for Zero Energy and No Security (DOZENS), but the latter (social feasibility)?  Who would do that?  Probably the Circumlocution Office which still lurks at the heart of Whitehall.

The UK pattern so far is that climate change policy (of the “That’s really very brave Minister” sort) gets set, more or less in the shadows, and then a more or less humiliating step is taken backwards when the public gets wind of just how badly it is going to be affected.  Think of the plans for forced installation of heat pumps, the compulsory purchase of EVs, and the restrictions on letting houses that are not pitch-perfect in insulation.

The balance between carrots and sticks is a delicate one (unless hitting people with carrots really is the aim).  The argument against forced targets is that it distorts innovation.  The emerging much better EV battery technology and less damaging and more effective refrigerants in heat pumps will mean that too early innovation risks being wasteful, even before you factor in the effect on the poor and their inability to pay.

It's constantly amazing how many politicians and NGO activists can, in the same breath, deplore people's inability to afford decent food and housing, whilst saying that the same people will need to pay even higher green taxes and charges, and fork out for products they obviously can’t afford.  Some cognitive dissonance here you might think.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • Thank you for pointing out the cognitive dissonance inherent in our environmental action systems. We want both technological solutions and also a high standard of living for everyone, and all without addressing the root causes of environmental problems. It too often comes down to financial feasibility and technological solutions, and almost never to the worldview and lifestyle (consumer-materialism) that perpetuate the problems. Those latter discussions remain uncomfortable and inconvenient, and so are dismissed as irrelevant.