Instant Opinion

‘Are we doomed, or is there still a chance to save civilisation?’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Polly Toynbee for The Guardian

We need radical policies to reach net zero. Here’s a fairer way to do them

on creating carbon taxes

“Are we doomed, or is there still a chance to save civilisation?” asks Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. Veering “between despair and slender hope” is easy when you look at the status of our emissions, she continues. When “the world’s richest 1% emit 35 times what each individual should use to ensure global heating does not exceed a 1.5C rise”, Boris Johnson is pretending when he says “answers can be conjured up ‘without so much as a hair shirt in sight’”. One action that could make a real difference is carbon taxes, says Toynbee – something like the “radical scheme for tradable personal carbon allowances (PCAs)” put forward by David Miliband in 2006. This policy could be “a potential win-win-win”, she adds. “It would fix an annual reduction in carbon emissions and redistribute cash from the extravagant to the carbon thrifty in this most unequal country.” But a policy like this “demands tough government action”, concludes Toynbee. “Do I think this government of the rich for the rich would do it? No chance.”

2

Nadine Dorries for The Yorkshire Post

Why journalism matters more than ever

on fighting fake news

Why does journalism matter? “It’s not just so we can have something entertaining to read with our morning bowl of corn flakes”, says culture secretary Nadine Dorries in The Yorkshire Post. “Our democracy relies on it.” Good journalism “exposes wrongdoing and injustice”, she continues, “it scrutinises people in power and it champions and celebrates good causes”. And, in the internet age, the work of journalists “has become even more important”: they are “our first line of defence in the fight against fake news”. Dorries says that one of the “biggest issues” in her “in-tray” is ensuring “big social media platforms protect their users from danger online, including misinformation”. The “trailblazing” Online Safety Bill “includes extremely important protections and exemptions for journalists”, she adds. “In government we’re doing all we can to help back our brilliant journalists to go about their jobs without fear or favour,” Dorries concludes. “This week you can do the same – by picking up a paper or visiting the websites of our world-renowned news industry.”

3

Minreet Kaur for the i news site

After the pain of Covid, celebrating Diwali is going to feel extra special this year

on returning to ‘some kind of normal’

On Thursday, freelance journalist Minreet Kaur will be celebrating Diwali along with “millions of others across the UK. And, with Covid meaning we couldn’t gather last year, this one already feels incredibly special,” she writes on the i news site. As a Sikh, Kaur will be celebrating Bandi Chhor Divas: “it’s our version of Diwali and means liberation of prisoners day”, she explains. Accompanied by her family, Kaur will be lighting candles at home and in the garden “if the British weather allows” and eating a feast together, featuring “Sholay, a chickpea dish, which we eat with a fried roti called Puri”. They’ll also be visiting an open kitchen “to donate food and sweets to be shared with homeless people in our area”. “Last year it was heart-breaking not being able to celebrate as we normally would,” says Kaur. There will still be some Covid restrictions in place on Thursday, “but I am so excited we can go back to some kind of normal this year”. 

4

Charles Moore for The Daily Telegraph

The BBC’s prophet of doom belongs in a pulpit

on climate change ‘preaching’

Tim Davie, the BBC’s director-general, is currently “engaged in a push to make the corporation’s commitment to impartiality real”, writes Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, adding: “I think he should start with its environment analyst”. In Roger Harrabin’s recent reporting from Cop26 in Glasgow, which was broadcast on yesterday’s Today programme, none of his “assertions was sourced beyond ‘the scientists say’”, Moore writes. “There was not even the faintest attempt to suggest that his claims about the state of the planet were disputable.” Harrabin’s “call for ‘revolutions’ – getting rid of coal, cars etc – [was] unqualified by any sense that in a democracy views on such things may legitimately differ”, he continues. It was “pure preaching, and deliberately frightening preaching too”. “I do question whether [Harrabin] should be allowed to do the broadcasting equivalent at the expense of TV licence payers,” concludes Moore. “Perhaps it would be unkind to sack him, but couldn’t Mr Davie confine him to a weekly slot on Thought for the Day?”

5

Sara Tor for The Times

Don’t be hard on Lady Eliza, we all have cash flow problems

on the perils of self-employment

Lady Eliza Manners – the socialite daughter of the Duke of Rutland – had her “finances dragged up in court and in the papers” when she couldn’t pay her £100 speeding fine and had it reduced by 50%, writes Sara Tor in The Times. “Of course there will be many comments about how she is the daughter of a duke and should be able to pay, but on this occasion I can totally relate to her,” she continues. First, “the bank of mum and dad is notoriously unforthcoming with its cash bonuses when you’re in a spot of bother”, Tor continues. Second, trying “to live off the funds generated by… adventures in self-employment” can be difficult: “Whether you run an interior design company like Lady Eliza or you’re a freelance journalist, chasing up invoices and hassling people for payment is an extra part-time job that can result in some rather cash-strapped months.” Let’s cut Lady Eliza some slack, concludes Tor. “She’s just a young girl trying to support herself and sometimes paying a fine of £100 just isn’t feasible. After all, we all have our lifestyles to maintain: I need my Netflix account, she needs her nights out at Annabel’s.”

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