We sophisticated, tech-savvy Brits like to pride ourselves on having the latest flashy gadgets and gizmos.
The latest iPhone? Check. Shiny, hulking jeep? Check. Brand new flat screen telly? Check!
Where do we buy them? The local Carphone Warehouse, car dealer, Argos – all on British high streets.
But where are these desirable ‘must-haves’ made? And how much carbon is emitted in the process of making them?
In essence, that’s the question MPs on the energy and climate change select committee have been wondering – and their latest report on the matter won’t make easy reading for the Government.
Brought out yesterday, it falls short of accusing the Government of lying about the emissions we are responsible for.
But reading between the lines, it’s easy to see the accusation hovering, like the uneasy feeling of guilt in your stomach, on every page.
Put plainly, it seems the UK isn’t owning up to the emissions created for the things it uses – like a shifty dog owner looking the other way when its pet does the dirty on a neighbour’s front lawn.
Of course, it’s ludicrous to suggest the UK is the worst offender when it comes to emissions. Or even, as the Chancellor rightly said in his speech to the Tory conference last Autumn, that we can save the planet on our own.
But really, how dare we lecture the world, China and all, on emissions – when it seems we’re sidestepping the blame for carbon pollution just so we can get our grubby hands on the latest technological eye candy?
To reluctantly return to George Osborne – pariah of the moment after a calamitous 2012 Budget – how nauseating is it to think back to his comparison (in the same Tory conference speech) of Britain’s 2% share of the world’s carbon emissions versus China and America’s 40%?
Then, George Osborne said we should resolve “to cut our carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe.”
But with the 2% emissions claim thrown into doubt by the energy select committee’s new report, Osborne’s words now sound even more disingenous and shallow than they did to begin with.
How on earth are our shifty British politicians meant to look their counterparts in the eye around the negotiating table at summits like the Clean Energy Ministerial in London next week, or the Rio+20 in June?