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It's non-stop fun in Zero Carbon Britain, 2030

What do the Greens have in store?

New hybrid storage solutions

You'll be happy for your daily electricity ration

And powering this exciting vision of Britain in 2030?

Well, over half of the energy will come from Offshore Wind, reckons the Trust. And for backup when the wind doesn't blow? The answer is: "some biogas is used as additional dispatchable [sic] generation to back up the grid," Not surprisingly, no numbers are attached. But Germany, which went big for wind, building around 20,000 bird-slicers, has set about building five new coal-fired stations as backup.

If you're concerned about things environmental, biodiversity or future fuel supplies, it's less than useless. Costs are glossed over, and consequences ignored. Although it's the product of over a dozen universities and think tanks is little more than a list drawn up by a student, or some demented trainspotter in his shed, writing down a list of "Things I Hate".

It's been ignored by the press as cranky, which it obviously is. But future historians, sociologists and anthropologists will find a lot of material in the ZCT report.The idea of creating one great Unit of Measurement - of all human activity - and using it as a brutal political proxy, will astound people for decades to come.

The politics of climate change is really a Dead Duck now - the mitigation policies are unsellable to a democratic electorate at any price - and as the realisation sinks in, the movement behind them is fragmenting in lots of interesting ways. These aren't being reported, so let this be a tentative first step.

On the extreme fringe are people who really like whittling sticks by candlelight - the DIY crowd, who in the 1970s spent every waking moment planning for a post-apocalypse. Or making TV dramas about it. These are people who quite happy bartering goods, while keeping an eye on their investment portfolios and PEPs. This sort of chap was satirised in the sitcom The Good Life: Self-sufficiency in potatoes then, "energy security" now.

Single males are overly represented in this group: they can DIY everything they need, why shouldn't everybody else?

Then there are people who are quite happy to go along for the ride, so long as it there's money behind it. This includes large chunks of academia (the ZCT is a good example - over a dozen institutions were involved in producing Zero Carbon Britain 2030), the bureaucracy (eg, recycling officers and sustinability quangos), and individuals with a canny eye for a hand-out. They can fit a solar panel to the roof, grab a subsidy, and hope to ride the gravy train as long as is feasible. Even George Monbiot has pointed out that feed-in tariffs are a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the middle-classes (the middles classes with solar panels, natch).

So the second group, the freeriders, are people who really aren't deeply ideologically committed, but are perhaps able to persuade themselves that (say) manmade global warming or Peak Oil is really worrying, or that resources are finite, so long as the money keeps flowing.

There's an important difference between the Jihadists and the Free-riders, though - and that's the necessity or quantity of humans suffering necessary. I note that even the Malthusian chief scientific advisor to our Department of Energy and Climate Change, David MacKay (author of bloggers' favourite Without Hot Air), doesn't see misery as necessary.

Both groupings will have to face the same, fairly unpalatable realities quite soon, however.

The policies of carbon mitigation are now unsellable - they mean political suicide. In an election year it makes all the difference: Obama wisely won't touch it, the only Republican behind climate change has turned turtle, and it helped cost the Australian PM his job. Politicians will still use it as an excuse for taxes - the Tories dropped anything to do with climate mitigation but still used it as justification for increasing air taxes. But the fact is, the more people realise that mitigation means misery and costs - there's no way of disguising either - the less popular it becomes.

Did anyone really think it would work - one great unit of measurement, one (and only) one measure of how much things in life are worth? Or was it just a pose - a way of saying you're more caring and compassionate and earthy than the chavvie chap next door, with his Plasma TV?

Bootnote

(And just for fun: see if you can tot up the split between "Jihadists" and "Free-riders" in the Comments below; we'll compare tallies in seven days.) [Thanks Andrew, can't wait - the Moderatrix]

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