June 23, 2008

Gordon Brown in Saudi Arabia and in a political bind

There is a good analysis of the bind the UK Prime Minister is in when trying to form policy to cope with climage change and rising oil prices. It comes in an Observer article by Andrew Rawnsley entitled: "Don't rely on the boys with the black stuff, Mr Brown" and concerns Gordon Brown's attempt to get Middle East oil producers to pump more oil.

'Voters' say they want action on climate change, but call for contrary action when their own financial interests are at stake.

Another good opportunity to flag up the need for the Simultaneous Policy campaign. See:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/22/greenpolitics.gordonbrown

This is the comment I left:

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This is a good analysis and we have to hope that politicians can lead the debate and explain why a low-carbon economy is better than pumping more oil to keep the price down.

I do take slight issue with this comment, however: "The culprit is easy to identify. I blame the voters. When they told pollsters that the environment was high in their concerns, the politicians made it high in theirs. With the economy sagging and the cost of essentials rising, the understandable response of voters is to tell the opinion pollsters that they are now less bothered about the planet and much more agitated about taxation and inflation."

It is true as far as it goes. But we need to go further. The reason why the government tried to backtrack on its commitments to the European Emissions Trading Scheme was pressure from business interests, which threatened that investment and jobs would move overseas if UK targets were too demanding. That would harm the economy and lose votes. So such pressure works and will continue to work.

Unless the voters can regain their democratic rights. A way to do so - as well as demonstrating and writing to MPs - is to support the Simultaneous Policy campaign, which brings people together around the world to discuss and agree the policies they wish to see implemented to address global problems and calls on politicians to pledge to implement them alongside other governments. Simultaneous implementation breaks the power of vested interests. Politicians from all major parties in Parliament are already signing up. The more voters that support the Simultaneous Policy, the more MPs that will pledge to implement it and the sooner that will become government policy, moving us closer to implementation.

It's not an alternative to other action, but can potentially take us far further, such as to implementation of the 'Contraction and Convergence' approach to climate change which is gaining support in the annual Simultaneous Policy voting rounds.
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This meeting takes place as a new opinon poll in the UK suggests that there is still a lot of confusion about climate change, with 60% incorrectly believing "many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change."

The information sharing role of the SP campaign has a role to play here. Amongst SP Adopters (anyone can sign up for no charge), in the last annual voting round 80% put climate change as the top global problem they want to see addressed.

The need for its strategy of putting people in charge of leading politicians is demonstrated by the lack of confidence those polled put in their leaders. According to The Guardian:

"More than half of those polled did not have confidence in international or British political leaders to tackle climate change, but only just over a quarter think it's too late to stop it. Two thirds want the government to do more but nearly as many said they were cynical about government policies such as green taxes, which they see as 'stealth' taxes."

See:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/22/climatechange.carbonemissions

There is a lot of action taking place at more local level, sometimes motivated by the lack of it at national level, as with New Mexico's solar panel fields and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

As The Guardian reports: "Although 25 states have approved their own RPS, a national standard has stalled in the face of resistance from traditional coal-powered utilities and their allies in Congress."

These innovations show that contraction of carbon emissions is possible. The introduction of a global strategy of Contraction and Convergence would serve as a motor for further innovation and provide a global market for the technology, so bringing down prices.

Technology isn't the whole answer, but those in early with refining technology are likely to see great benefits.

1 comment:

GLC said...

Hi Mike - nice blog. I've responded to your comment on my blog but I thought I'd stop by here to return the favour.

I'm a bit of an old cynic when it comes to grassroots campaigns and what they can achieve. I think they can be great in raising awareness, particularly when they catch the mood of the people on a single issue, but are often limited in actual achievements.

If you don't already know about it, you may be interested in this: www.icount.co.nz which is a New Zealand "democracy in action" movement that has similar ideals and goals to Simultaneous Policy. I'm thinking that SimPol would be that much more effective in an electoral system with PR.