- Date published:
7:18 am, December 3rd, 2010 - 62 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Environment, sustainability, uk politics - Tags: climate change, david cameron, greed, green economy
As a society we can’t seem to bring ourselves to take action on climate change. Despite ever more cogent and apocalyptic warnings that we’re going to destroy the environment that gives us life, we aren’t going to do anything about it. The failure at Copenhagen, and the non event that is Cancun, are in the process of proving that.
It looks like only greed can save us.
Greed (as a convenient shorthand for “wanting more stuff than we need”) is what drives us. Not all of us, but collectively. Greed is destroying us. Perhaps only greed is a strong enough to save us too. I have believed this for quite some time now, but I was utterly surprised to find this view so clearly and strongly articulated by none other than Britain’s PM, David Cameron:
Use the profit motive to fight climate change
The prime minister argues that there are huge gains to be made from a green economy
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen the devastation that unchecked climate change could bring – floods in Pakistan, forest fires in Russia, mudslides in China. And yet over the same 12 months we’ve seen a growing despondency about international efforts to protect our planet. Copenhagen was a disappointment for everyone who cares about climate change. …
The second reason to take heart is that there is a compelling economic case to be made for fighting climate change that is barely out of the blocks yet. The green effort should not be downgraded or swept under the carpet because of spending cuts and austerity. On the contrary, both developed and developing countries have the potential to make massive gains from a green economy; the low carbon market is already worth up to £3.2 trillion and is forecast to grow by around 4% a year over the next five years.
I passionately believe that by recasting the argument for action on climate change away from the language of threats and punishments and into positive, profit-making terms, we can have a much wider impact.
If Cameron follows though on those fine words, if he can remake Britain’s economy so that the right incentives foster a green, sustainable future, then dammit I’d vote for the Tory git, welfare cuts and all.
But of course these ideas have been round a lot longer than Cameron. I wrote last year about a UN report: “Green Economy: A Transformation to Address Multiple Crises”. Here in New Zealand some of our smarter entrepreneurs and commentators have been saying more or less the same thing for a while. And of course the Greens, although they don’t frame it in terms of profit and incentive, have a detailed alternative vision for the economy, The Green New Deal.
So, National and Labour. Your move. Unless we make significant changes there is disaster ahead. Since we can’t motivate those changes through an appeal to reason, we must make it happen via an appeal to greed. As simple and as stark as that of Britain’s PM. Someone needs to pick up The Green New Deal, or something very close to it, and sell it in the only language that will make it work. Who is going to lead the way?