Fairness is vital if people are not to be left behind, but although the government is now saying the right things, its actions lag behind
The collection of new climate policies released by the government this week are being scrutinised for their ambition and effectiveness. But it is also crucial to judge them for their fairness. We need to reduce total emissions as rapidly as possible – “fairness” at a macro level means protecting poorer countries that have done little to cause the problem, and those countries that have emitted the most overall, such as the UK, moving fastest.
At a more micro level, fairness is also vital. The move to net zero will lead to major changes across all aspects of UK society, and a lot of less well-off people are understandably worrying whether they can afford to cut their emissions. It’s essential to design policies so that this transition is fair for individuals and that no one is left behind. This is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes sense politically: if fairness is not baked in then people will resist change, and that reasonable resentment will be magnified and manipulated by those seeking to delay action for other reasons.
Rebecca Newsom is head of politics at Greenpeace UK