Let’s invest in Guernsey

Instead of wasting money on ticking boxes and virtue signalling, Horace Camp suggests we focus on making our island a climate friendly Utopia

Turning old vinery sites into allotments would benefit Guernsey. (28422813)
Turning old vinery sites into allotments would benefit Guernsey. (28422813)

What happened to us? We were once the Flash Harry, the Artful Dodger, the Del Boy of the Channel. A small David who couldn’t possibly compete against a giant Goliath except by using our wits and nimbleness to see an opportunity and turn it to our advantage. We took pride in our littleness because we knew we had the wit and the wiles to do well as little fish in a very big pond.

I read today the Mitigate Climate Change policy letter issued by that affiliate sub group of Extinction Rebellion that goes by the name of Environment & Infrastructure and realised we see ourselves as the new Goliath. We are now the slow, lumbering but very short giant who attempts to compete on an equal basis with the real giants of the world.

The rest of the giants don’t realise this because we are so small they can’t see us and all our exhortations sound to them like the annoying whine of a mosquito. It is so important for us to stand shoulder to toe with all the other great world powers to fight the scourge of climate change.

If the UK has a target to reduce emissions by 57%, then by golly we will set the same target and be damned. That’s the way Goliath Guernsey rumbles. Now Del Boy would look at that 57% and come up with some way that we could make it work to our advantage. Del would look closely at the figures and see if there was another way of achieving the same reductions as the UK but in a smoke and mirrors way of making it a bit easier and a bit cheaper for us to attain.

Perhaps in 1990 our emissions per capita were lower than the UK’s (I don’t know if they were, but you get my drift) and if we convert the 57% reduction target to achieving the UK’s per capita compared to 1990 we may get away with reducing less than 57% but still be in line with our big neighbour to the north.

I know all the former Extinction Rebellion (now BLM) activists would not approve of such shenanigans but Covid-19 has taught us that we need to balance our books and not burn (sorry recycle) our money in a beacon of virtue signalling.

Flash Harry when presented with the problem of deciding how to calculate our emissions would be doing his best to claim ownership of the least amount possible. Our sack cloth and ashes clothed mini Goliath, on the other hand, wants an impressive total of emissions to reduce from to secure the necessary bragging rights just in case he (other genders are available) ever gets invited to a giant’s party.

Luckily such claimable planet killers exist. We can voluntarily claim that all the emissions due to exporting our waste to be burnt in an incinerator be added to our total. If only it was being shipped to China we could claim even more. But sadly it only goes as far as Sweden.

I’ve only read it very quickly and could have missed this, but what about claiming all emissions from tourism on the island but also – here’s the wheeze – claim the emissions of all Guernsey residents travelling off island as well. That would be real sack cloth and ashes stuff, eh?

Flash is pondering if we can claim the carbon offsetting of all funds with the Guernsey Green seal of approval, after all they are linked to us and they will be doing good things. Obviously small potatoes now but should it ever take off it could be significant in the future.

There is a certain amount of sense in the policy letter. We accept we can’t get emissions down to actual zero but we will aim for net zero. This means we don’t have to give up things we don’t want to because we can pay a sort of penance for using them. It’s called carbon offsetting and it means you can pollute the planet but if you do you must give money to someone who will do something to wash your sin away. Great idea and several religions have made a fortune out of it over the years.

Every time I fire up one of my fossil fuel-guzzling tractors I will send away for a vial of St Greta’s tears to assuage my conscience. And possibly I will dress up in an XR flowing red kaftan, whiten my face and sway for an hour as well. I will probably invite the proposed new environmental regulator to witness the ritual.

What I do like about this policy letter is Appendix C , Guernsey’s Strategy For Nature. It’s not perfect and from time to time it drifts off into a David Attenborough fantasy land, but this is where we need to start. We are living in hard times and we have more hard times ahead. We must accept that any money spent must be well spent.

We must also accept that if we reduced Guernsey to actual zero emissions by evacuating our island and letting it revert to a wilderness, it would not impact global climate change one jot.

This policy letter is all about ticking boxes and virtue signalling, which is not inherently bad but it is not the best use of our money. Instead let’s spend our money on making our island a climate friendly Utopia. We can do it because we want to do it. We had a glimpse of what we could create during lockdown.

Let’s invest in Guernsey, not a carbon sink in Venezuela, or even worse by trading carbon credits on international markets. Guernsey Electricity has purchased the right to call our electricity ‘alternative not nuclear’ but it’s not real is it?

Let’s go EV, let’s go Active Travel. Bring back the free tree scheme. Teach children how to garden. Turn old vinery sites into allotments. Change society, change our island for the better in a practical way and spend our money wisely.

Make these words a true reflection of our island again:

Sarnia; dear homeland, gem of the sea.

Island of beauty, my heart longs for thee.

Thy voice calls me ever, in waking, or sleep,

Till my soul cries with anguish, my eyes ache to weep.

In fancy I see thee, again as of yore,

Thy verdure clad hills and thy wave beaten shore.

Thy rock sheltered bays, ah; of all thou art best,

I’m returning to greet thee, dear island of rest.

And never say ‘Lisia’ in my presence.

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