8 March 2015
I want to talk about Climate Change and Leadership – Green Leadership.
Warming of the climate system is happening:
Perhaps these facts are too alarming. Perhaps we’d rather not think about or do anything with them. To the contrary, what’s alarming is the indecision, inaction and bogus priorities betrayed by our leaders.
Climate change denial would have Vote Blue-Go Green-Cameron fly over to the Arctic in 2007 for photo op with huskies. I wonder whether that patch of ice still exists?
Climate change denial would have them plough another £30bn into road building schemes and promote airport expansion instead of affordable public transport and investment in walking and cycling.
Climate change denial would have the government invite tenders for fracking as a viable source of energy generation – fossil fuel intensive, and contaminating the water table.
Climate change denial would have our leaders promote pre-Christmas sales hype in order to boost the economy. What am I bid for flat-screen TV on Asda Black Friday? Carbon production exported to China then imported back here to massage our EU carbon allowances! Riots expected! Cha-ching!
Climate change is a justice issue. 600,000 deaths occur worldwide every year because of it. 95% of these deaths take place in developing countries.
The double injustice of Bangladeshis in low-lying coastal areas being made to suffer the negative consequences of sea-level rises due to the West’s overconsumption – that they are both least responsible for and least able to afford the remedial action to contend with.
Climate change denial is to give ourselves targets and set some new ones when the earlier ones have already been missed. What am I bid? 20% by 2020? 80% by 2050? Using 1980 levels or 1990 levels?
Greens are the only game in town to counteract climate change denial. We’ve been talking about it from the get-go-Green, with joined-up policies on energy generation and efficiency, transport and waste, and doing about it as elected Greens. Our councillors in Kirklees initiated a free home insulation programme for 30,000 homes, reducing energy waste and saving households on average £150 per annum.
The UK is the third lowest producer of renewable energy in the EU. Just look how much unharnessed wind, wave and solar we have at our disposal! Do the real security needs of the UK lie in £100bn Trident renewal? No. Greens say new renewable energy industries could be set up in the same area and use the same skills and resources as the existing arms industries: such as conversion of shipbuilding plant to wave power or aerospace to wind power.
Greens understand that the bottom line isn’t the bottom line. We need to fix the broken economy not round the edges, but wholesale. Currency is a convention that currently exacerbates inequality in society. Labour and ConDems printed money out of a politicised Bank of England – only to ease the bankers and brokers’ liability for their own casino-style fleecing of our savings.
We need a carbon-based currency that promotes stewardship of the Earth in our every transaction, backed up by our responsibility to the other species we share this beautiful planet with and the future generations that aren’t around yet to press their entitlements upon us.
We have presided over the fetishisation of Keynesian economics and pursuit of endless growth like there’s no tomorrow. Yet there is a contradiction at the heart of this goal, even in the reflective minds of those most succumbing to it. The more you earn the more you think you can’t afford what you really need. That can’t be because you don’t have more stuff. It is because you’ve generated increasingly insatiable desires to substitute for the ones that have already been satisfied. For in-built redundancy read in-built neurotic trap. The American dream becomes a nightmare.
What is to be our legacy as a human race? The despoliation of the invaluable, irreplaceable species we share this planet with, including our own? For the sake of austerity debt-finance? There is nothing more painful than an uninhabitable planet.
Green leadership goes well beyond electoral politics and is required now more than ever. It is not practiced only by the named leaders. To the contrary it is lived by us all. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and cheerleaders. It is said good leaders create good leaders. This is nearly right – the truth is there is leadership in all of us and we need to create the conditions to help bring that about.
Green politics is a full time job. But not quite a job; it’s a way of life. With apologies to the Working Time Directive, we don’t know how to take time off. We are driven by the need to restore health to this planet. Ours is a collective calling. Therein lies our duty and what kind of leader does it make us? You need only to be Green. Empowerment and Ownership. Not control and power over.
Alice, a new member writes of her first party meeting, “I felt as I was listening that this was a party where the power was surging up from the grassroots, rather than from the top down. . . It’s exciting to think of wave after wave of competent new people coming into the party, and building it up with them.”
I doubt Alice would want the leader who boasts, in 2003, “Even if I'm the only person left saying it, I'm going to say it. I may be wrong in believing it but I do believe it.” Yes, Tony, you were the only person left saying it. There were no WMD, or even weapons-of-mass-destruction-programme-related-activities: add-your-favourite-evidence-base-extension. Blood on your hands. No apology. War crimes tribunal over your head!
Or do you want the leader who claims to want to rise above personal attacks, yet dispenses these on a daily basis upon migrants? Yes, Farage, you are quite right that you would not make a good Prime Minister. If ice-melt causes the Gulf stream to divert and the UK gets plunged into sub-Arctic temperature, we will all be the new migrants.
Or do you want the MPs who won’t get out of bed for less than £69k? Cash for access: Cha-ching! What’s all this about us having to pay more for decent MPs. The opposite is the case. I rather suppose that were you to offer the average national wage, you would get substantially improved intake to Parliament. Let us however attempt job share MPs, to help bring a greater diversity of people into Parliament – on the Eve of International Women’s Day.
Green leaders all around. Thank you Chis Southall in Clacton! Thank you Abi Jackson in Middleton! Thank you Clive Gregory in Rochester! You did the Party proud in unforgiving by-election territory. Good luck Darren Hall in Bristol West! Good luck Lesley Grahame in Norwich South! Good luck Caroline in Brighton! Let’s make it happen!
I was asked by a friend which time and place would I choose to be born into. Let that time be right here, right now!
We cannot change the trajectory of our past, but let us shape the destiny of our tomorrow.