Bali bull

The climate change discussions in Bali are clearly a stitch up. There is a pattern to this – the Europeans and most of the rest of the world put forward radical proposals while the US take a very hard line position. Then ‘negotiations’ take place and we get some sort of feeble compromise that does not really do very much to stem the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The truth is that governments are reluctant to face up to the fundamental fact that capitalism, with its emphasis on continued need for growth, is the root of the problem. No government has ever dared to set out an agenda of limited or zero economic growth. Yet, it is difficult to envisage how the climate change process can be reversed without it.
At least, though, we could try. There are a myriad things that could be done in this country relatively quickly, from stopping the building of more runways and roads to reducing speed limits and imposing rises on the price of fuel. Outside of transport issues, we could have a national programme of loft insulation and a rapid tightening up of building standards.
I was talking to an architect yesterday who said that when she refurbished a Victorian house in North London recently in a conservation area, she was not allowed to put in double glazing at the front of the house because it was out of keeping with the historic environment. Well, the flooding that is made more likely by such decisions won’t be in keeping with the historic feel of the area either!
There is, still, no sense of urgency about this issue despite the warnings of scientists and some enlightened public figures. Arguments about green issues have become just another source of party political point scoring when, in fact, they are far too important for that. Give it another five years, and some major environmental catastrophes, and then it will get on the political agenda. Until then, we fiddle as the world floods.

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