Saturday, 7 August 2021

Underestimating his contribution


Boris Johnson’s crass comments about Thatcher’s contribution to avoiding climate change by closing mines were not only insensitive to the affected communities, they were also, as is usual for the fact-free world he inhabits, plain wrong. Thatcher’s pit closures had nothing at all to do with reducing the use of coal; they merely outsourced its production to other countries.

But, following his strange logic for a moment, he was underestimating his own more than modest contribution to reducing the UK’s carbon footprint. After all, if it hadn’t been for the way he handled the Covid pandemic, there would be tens of thousands more old people still alive today burning fossil fuels to keep warm. If it weren’t for his Brexit deal, there’d be many more lorries on the roads ferrying wholly unnecessary food supplies around the country (and from the European mainland) to fill supermarket shelves. He’s saving millions of food miles at a stroke. And we should not forget that the planned reversal of the Universal Credit uplift will directly reduce the spending power of millions of people, in turn reducing their demand for goods and services and the carbon cost of producing them. Given the complete disregard for the consequences of government actions on people and communities displayed by his comments on pit closures, it’s surprising that he hasn’t yet claimed the credit for any of this.

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