This is a rant.
Why? Because I can't help myself. I tried to hold back.
I read the first three chapters of the Low Carbon Construction Innovation & Growth Team emerging findings and I am now deeply saddened.
I didn’t bother with the remaining chapters, but did eyeball the recommendations.
I was not saddened so much by what was said. Much I agree with, although there is within the report some seemingly lazy thinking, particularly with regards to up-skilling the industry.
This is not so much a criticism of the efforts of the Innovation & Growth Team, but a rant against the absurd context within which, I suspect, they feel obliged to frame their thinking and the limits that sets.
I am, therefore, more concerned with what was not said.
Having said that, the report (executive summary point 11) did put at the top of its list of barriers to progress “the plethora of policies, reports and initiatives...which are incapable of absorption by business...”
A fair point well made.
But, without apparent irony, it then, in Annexe B: Summary of Recommendations and Propositions, goes on to produce a shopping list of suggestions that would appear to mean the creation of more policies, reports and initiatives.
Anyway, what was absent and what disappointed me was a clear statement pointing out that if we really want to limit people’s use of "dirty" energy the simplest most effective way to do that is to make it more expensive.
Ergo a hefty fuel tax, that ratchets up until behaviours are suitably changed.
Instead all we had in the report was a hint at "fiscal penalties" and "fiscal incentives".
Either we accept the risk that we may be about to destroy human existence on this planet as we know it, or we don’t.
If we don’t, well let’s carry on regardless, happily tuned into Top Gear and the world according to Jeremy Clarkson.
If we do, well let’s do something a little more dynamic than establish carbon audits and knowledge hubs or hope that more collaboration will help us win through.
Tax, tax, tax and more tax.
Where the fall of taxation is clearly unfair on certain groups, we can manage compensation of one sort or another.
Where there is “fuel poverty”. Frankly let’s deal with the important bit, the poverty.
And let’s channel some of the benefits of fuel taxation into accelerating improvements to the stock of substandard buildings in Britain.
Certainly a healthier tax take is in the interest of the construction industry, which currently draws almost half its revenue from the Treasury coffers.
Yes, of course I recognise this is a naive argument. But no more naive than the boy that screamed: “But the king is naked.”
It is essential that we prick the piety that surrounds this subject and break the spokes of the treadmill of political thinking that traps debate on an endless circular path of pointless promises and ineffectual actions.
The central point is: why generate elaborate policies if they ignoring the blindingly obvious that energy is absurdly cheap if it is doing the damage we think it is to the planet?
There is of course one clinching argument for taking the simple taxation route to carbon reduction – it should reduce the amount of pious preaching we have to endure from senior executives and politicians who, in all probability, have produced in their lifetime yeti-sized carbon footprints.