For climate policy expert Marc Jaccard, slowing climate change is ‘manageable’ if only we change our ways – and debunk myths. Highlighting one of these, he describes a day in the life of Steve, a friend who is climate conscious but outside the field. ‘Steve read about the jobs and tax revenue a proposed oil pipeline would generate. In that one morning he read the same message in an op-ed, the main editorial, a news article, and an info-ad designed to resemble a legitimate news article,’ writes Jaccard. ‘Later that day, driving home from work he passed a bus emblazoned with the message “powered by natural gas: the green energy future”.’ It’s an accurate portrait of the mixed messages from the fossil fuel industry, which defends itself with perhaps the most pervasive myth of all – that the fossil fuel project is still necessary.
Next, Jaccard takes on well-intentioned green ideas, demonstrating that many are simply own goals. The idea that renewables have already won, he argues, is a myth that slows momentum for essential regulations and carbon pricing. As for carbon offsets, he draws parallels with the ‘sin-offsetting’ practised at Middle Age churches, in which wealthy worshippers offset transgressions with surplus good deeds. ‘Can we pay someone to expiate our sins of emission,’ he asks, ‘or is this another myth that interferes with our ability to act effectively on the climate energy challenge?’
The suggestion that these practices are counterproductive is a powerful, if alarming, one. Luckily, his solution is straightforward. ‘Compulsory climate-energy policies,’ such as regulation and carbon pricing. And fast.