Protest Works, Take Two: UK Government Responds to School Strikes

CC BY 2.0. David Holt

From low carbon heating to habitat conservation, protesters have won concessions.

When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison backtracked (a bit) on climate, I chalked it up to the significant pressure being brought by school strikes and other popular protests. Now, according to the UK's conservative-leaning Daily Mail newspaper, similar concessions are due to be delivered by UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, who says he has "heard the call" from young people to act on climate:

Mr Hammond will say the UK must be ‘creative and innovative’ on climate change. Among his proposals to tackle carbon emissions is future-proofing new homes by making sure they are energy efficient, have lower bills and are better for the environment. He will bring in rules that will force all new-build homes to have low-carbon heating. Mr Hammond has vowed to at least halve the energy use of new-build properties by 2030.
To be clear, halving energy use from new build homes by 2030 is hardly the kind of deep decarbonization necessary to stave off dangerous climate change. And many of the other measures discussed in the Daily Mail report—exploring mandates to have airlines offer carbon offsets, and preserving natural habitats in Britain's overseas territories—are pretty far from revolutionary. But even lukewarm concessions are a sign that the issue is moving up the political agenda, thanks in large part to brave young people who are willing to make them

With the opposition Labour Party exploring its own version of a Green New Deal, I suspect the debate to pick up a momentum all its own. Who knows? Maybe we'll even see the kind of integrated green transport plan that could actually deliver the sorts of emissions reductions necessary to avoid the more dangerous outcomes of climate change.