Climate Change: Keeping It Simple Stupid?

Lord Adair Turner, chair of the UK government's advisory committee on climate change, makes tackling climate change seem (relatively) easy. But is keeping it simple, stupid? Or is it a sensible strategy to avoid frightening the horses?

I was one of 600 in Edinburgh University's McEwan Hall recently to hear Lord Turner eloquently outline a strategy for reducing UK CO2 emissions to 80% by 2050. I'll leave the details to the carbon policy wonks - but what struck me so strongly was how simple Turner makes it look. 

Of course he acknowledges that major changes are needed - electrification of all cars and light vans, massive insulation of existing homes, zero carbon new homes and so on. He reassures us: all this can be achieved at a cost of only a few percent of GDP.

But I recall him saying little about the social, cultural and political implications of all of this. I don't believe that a transition is necessarily going to be painful, as in 'back to the Middle Ages', but I do believe it will require changes that go far beyond technical fixes. 

I'm still wondering if this really is Lord Turner's view, or if it's a conscious strategy to present the transition as do-able? Perhaps he believes this is the message the government, business and the public need to hear. Get them engaged, and once they're on board they'll find it's actually a little more complex, but at least the journey has started?

Perhaps this is just one of several messages that needs to be out there - along with more sophisticated engagement like Forum for the Future; more challenging analyses as; and passionate campaigning from the likes of Plane Stupid.

Or does the message does lose all credibility if it's made too simple?

What do you think?

Lord Turner's slides and audio of his speech available here.