Laybourn, an associate fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the narratives used to describe the situation, the climate change narrative, were very important. For example, greener transport is not simply about switching to electric vehicles, but about better public transport and redesigned cities that mean people are closer to the jobs, education and healthcare they need. This in turn meant re-evaluating local authority budgets and taxes to implement the change.
Unfairness in climate policy could drive the doom loop, Laybourn said, because if people felt unaffordable changes were being forced on them they would reject the need for a green transition. But, he added: “If you have fairness at the heart of things, it can instead be a virtuous circle, if you’re in a situation where people recognise that switching to a heat pump and having better insulation will be better for them regardless of the climate crisis.”
Avoiding a doom loop required a more honest acceptance by politicians of the great risks posed by the climate crisis, the researchers said, including the looming prospect of tipping points and of the huge scale of the economic and societal transformation required to end global heating. This should be combined with narratives that focus on the great benefits climate action brought and ensuring policies were fairly implemented.