Should someone tell fuel protesters that one of the points of fuel duty is to encourage people to drive less?
It was, of course, Al Gore who coined the memorable phrase "an inconvenient truth" to describe the disconnect whereby we accept that manmade climate change is happening, but deem it too difficult, too inconvenient, to take the steps necessary to tackle it.
Sadly, the term resonates just as effectively now as it did when it first entered the popular imagination back in 2006 - we are as guilty as ever of largely ignoring increasingly robust scientific truths because facing up to them would result in some inconvenient disruptions to our lives.
This would be bad enough on its own, but the failure to face up to the climatic inconvenient truth means that the policy response to global warming has become littered with a new breed of inconvenient truths, where political and business leaders remain wilfully blind to the intended implications of the green policies they pursue.
This is particularly apparent in the UK at the moment where the government defence of its low carbon policies in the face of orchestrated criticism from the media and some industry groups has been, with one or two notable exceptions, little short of spineless.
Here are just a few of the inconvenient policy truths the government is reluctant to confront, and even more reluctant to talk about publicly.
When the successful e-petition that triggered today's parliamentary debate on delaying the imminent increase in fuel duty complains that high fuel prices mean that "fewer people can afford to drive", the inconvenient truth is that ensuring fewer people drive is the precise point of green levies on fuel. We want fewer people to drive and we want the cost of fuel to account for the pollution costs that result from burning that fuel.
When heavy industries complain that the carbon floor price will drive up the cost of energy and leave them with a hefty bill that could undermine their competitiveness, the inconvenient truth is that the carbon floor price is designed in part to undermine the competitiveness of those energy intensive firms that fail to respond to the resulting price signal by improving their energy efficiency. We don't want firms to migrate overseas and continue polluting, but we do want them to face higher costs if they do not make every possible effort to improve energy efficiency.
When the media and right wing think-tanks protest that green levies on energy bills are driving up domestic energy bills in order to subsidise renewable energy, the inconvenient truth is that the dual aim of green levies is to raise funds for investment in low carbon infrastructure and send a price signal that encourages people to take energy efficiency more seriously. We don't want to force people into fuel poverty, but we do need to raise funds for investment in new energy infrastructure somehow and, if in doing so we provide a trigger for energy efficiency investment, that is all to the good.
Hardly anyone is willing to broadcast these truths, even if growing numbers of politicians, businesses and environmental campaigners accept them in private. Even green NGOs are reluctant to tackle them for fear of being accused of callously ignoring the plight of the fuel poor, and those communities and businesses that suffer from rising fuel and energy costs.
It would be a brave (and arguably electorally suicidal) government that will face up to these inconvenient policy truths and make them plain for everyone to see. And yet, the failure to address them, the desire to deliver a covert low carbon revolution, makes it even harder for governments to drive through the rapid transformation of the economy necessary to stimulate green growth and avoid the nightmare climate change scenarios mapped out last week by the usually conservative IEA.
The reluctance of our political class to talk about climate change, and their failure to tie the overarching inconvenient truth presented by manmade global warming with the related inconvenient truths presented by green policies, means that they are constantly trying to defend green policies from criticism of the hardships they engender without properly explaining the existential threat that provides the rationale for their introduction.
They also present an open goal to climate sceptic groups that can attack the cost impact of green policies without having to address the climate science that has driven the development of such policies.
Just as importantly, the failure to acknowledge that green policies can and will deliver pain for some households and businesses means that governments are under less pressure than they should be to deliver sustainable mechanisms for alleviating that pain.
If the government responded to today's debate on fuel prices by categorically stating that high fuel prices are required to cut emissions and get people out of their cars, it would then have a moral and political duty to invest far more effort in providing greener transport alternatives, such as cheaper and more effective public transport, more generous tax breaks for low carbon vehicles, and perhaps even interim financial support for businesses and communities that really can't cope with high fuel prices.
Similarly, the government should (and, in fairness, is to a degree) respond to every complaint about the price impact of green levies by arguing that investment in new low carbon infrastructure is essential to address climate change and rising energy insecurity, at the same time as redoubling efforts to deliver real workable support that helps the fuel poor improve their energy efficiency.
Along the same lines, ministers should make the politically difficult admission that some industries will not survive as part of a low carbon economy and begin work now to re-skill and redeploy those working in these carbon intensive sectors.
The political temptation to ignore these inconvenient truths is immense - just think of the damage protesting hauliers have caused in the past.
But in sidelining climate change as a political issue and underplaying the goal of green policies governments exclude the public from playing a full and proper role in the creation of the exciting low carbon economy the UK is trying to build. Instead, the government's current approach to green taxes is like ministers trying to stop people smoking without mentioning that smoking is bad for them.
The fuel price debate, like so many other green policy debates, urgently needs political and business leaders who are willing to face up to inconvenient truths and admit that the short-term pain they impose will deliver huge long-term gains. Only then can they alleviate that pain where necessary and make every effort to ensure that the green gains promised by thew low carbon economy materialise as quickly as possible.
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