Europe promises ‘Fit for 55’. It’s not an advert for personal training for the over-50s


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“Some people say there is a God; others say there is no God; the truth probably lies somewhere in between”
– W. B. Yeats

Jargon emissions. That’s not my phrase but I’m awfully glad Politico’s Playbook thought of it.

The description captures the European Union’s (EU) massive “Fit for 55” plan. Released last week, it signifies the intention to 55 per cent of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

That it sounds like an advert offering personal training for the over-50s is another matter altogether. When the plan was unveiled, I remember thinking what on earth its title meant. It failed as a carbon emissions cutting statement of intent. For that meaning to be conveyed, the title should have been ‘55 to be fit’, thereby neatly encapsulating the fact that minus 55 per cent of emissions leads to a fitter (ie healthier) planet. If one must use the word “fit”.

What’s all this about fitness anyway? Playbook says, “Someone high up in the Commission’s comms department has got a ‘fit’ fetish”. And that there’s also an “attempt to create a circular economy of language”. This has apparently overwhelmed the EU’s communications wizards who “appear to be beguiled by the merest hint of alliteration, regardless of any other considerations, including meaning”.

And it gets better and better. Playbook adds, “Jargon is essential for life in the Brussels bubble. Normal human language decomposes for millions of years in the Commission’s departments and is then spewed up into the atmosphere from the central power plant of the Commission’s press room. Scientists say the problem is that it then hangs in a nebulous mass above Brussels, preventing any real communication from getting out”.

It’s enough to close off all hope of comprehension.