Wednesday, 7 May 2008

We don't just need new light bulbs. We need a new Government!

Don't you sometimes get sick and tired of worthy greens and governments asking you to change your light bulbs, skip your hard-earned holiday or do a bit more recycling, as though that's going to be enough to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change? I know I do, and most residents of Kemp Town and Peacehaven do too, if my mailbox is anything to go by.

The fact is the social disaster of climate change is already with us: and it's NOT OUR FAULT! Every time someone asks us as individuals to change our behaviour, they're asking us to take responsibility for a problem that isn't of our making.

Climate change is being fuelled by human induced greenhouse gas emissions. End of story. Of course there are a few nutters and naysayers out there, but I'm with the overwhelming scientific consensus on this one. And these emissions are produced mainly by corporate activity under an economic framework established and supported by governments the world over - not least here in the UK. Tackling them means changing the way we run our economy, and that's a job for governments, not individuals.

Of course it's important to 'do our bit' - but we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that's enough. If we are going to do anything, it should be the the best 'bit' we can do: elect politicians who understand this, or at least make these arguments in parliament. That's why whenever a newspaper or green campaigner gives a list of tips for living a greener life the number one should be 'Vote Green'.

Ann Pettifor, executive director of Advocacy International, formerly of the Jubilee 2000 anti-debt campaign, makes a good stab at this argument in the latest BBC Green Room article. She argues: 'The reason [green organisations fail] is that they focus on individual or community action, while failing to highlight the need for the kind of structural change that can only be brought about by government action. Governments helpfully collude in this atomisation and fragmentation of action and reaction.'

Not for the first time, she's absolutely right.

Read the full article here.

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