Stopping fossil fuel extraction – a lockdown approach
Chapman argues we should shift attention from carbon emissions to stopping fossil fuel extraction. The climate crisis requires we stop extraction now, but just as in the lockdowns there were exceptions to the general stay at home rule, there would need to be exceptions to the ban on fossil fuels
The current approach to mitigation of climate change prioritises life continuing pretty much as normal. We think that if we invest in renewable energy this will gradually replace fossil fuels. This has been spectacularly unsuccessful as a way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions: on a global level, renewable energy has added to our energy resources not replaced fossil fuels, the use of which has continued to rise. It is time to put the stability of the climate ahead of continuing with our way of life. We need to stop the extraction of fossil fuels now and live within the renewable energy resources that we have.
Unfortunately, we are so dependent on fossil fuels and the systems that use them that doing without them tomorrow would be extremely difficult. The attempt would probably lead to a great deal of suffering. But we now have recent experience of doing what seemed impossible, in the lockdowns called to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Just as in those lockdowns there were exceptions to the general 'stay at home' order, there would need to be exceptions, with permits allowing use of fossil fuels, given for essential uses for a limited period of time. During that time the whole economy would be directed to enabling us to cope without using fossil fuels.