Went to an interesting debate hosted by the Green Alliance last night, which featured leads from the three main parties on climate change.
– the biggest issue on climate change is can a global deal be done (given this requires the developed world to support the developing world)?
– there is a consensus between the three main parties on climate change (all three supported the Climate Change Act) and there will need to continue to be an anti-democratic conspiracy between the three main parties as tackling climate change will require a radical, dramatic and sometimes unpopular thirty year strategy which is systematically followed through
– this is a debate that’s moving fast (thank god). Less than a year ago carbon trading was the sole answer. Now its carbon trading plus direct intervention – for example the recent moves on carbon capture for coal-fired power stations. Some of this more interventionist policy is also a good example of politicians over-riding the civil service which in many Departments suffers from ‘producer capture’. It’s a good sign – but it’s a shame its taken so long for a Labour Government to start to do this.
– the Climate Change Act is revolutionary because it is not based on economics or cost benefit analysis – its based on regulation, and it has the support of all three parties
– should climate change continute to be labelled and marginalised as an ‘environmental’ issue by the media anymore?
– one of the next phases of the climate change debate will be that climate change is coming and this is what it means for the UK. This will bring people up short.
– NGOs and the green movement are important in this debate because they play an important part in forming and informing public opinion. The politicians on the panel appealed to the green movement to move from a negative, doomy stance (which promotes a feeling of helplessness among the public) to an Obama-style, we can rise to this challenge approach. Hilary Benn used a Martin Luther King analogy. King’s speech was ‘We have a dream’ not ‘We have a nightmare’
There was some good insights from a Mori pollster on the pannel on public opinion.
– The public are fatalistic about climate change – it’s now seen like death and taxes. Undesirable but what can you do?
– One of the very few things that pollsters can find consensus on among the public is that one of the best things about England is its heritage – and that includes the landscape. Is there a way in which this can be utilised in the climate change debate?
– The public want and expect the Government to take on climate change and be innovative about it. But they want it to be done fairly. Fairness is key. As an aside it struck me that a perceived sense of the lack of fairness of Manchester’s road user charging proposals could be one factor in why the vote was so heavily against.
All in all a very thoughtful and high quality debate – and encouraging. As in my previous post on the mass introduction of CNG vehicles in Delhi I think fatalism about climate change is a cop out. It’s now a practical challenge so let’s gone with it – win or lose.
Also it wasn’t the kind of debate that you normally get to hear as it’s unlikely the mainstream media would ever be likely to cover it unmediated by reductive cliches. But then right now the mainstream media is obsessed with politician’s expenses rather than climate change – the public’s reaction to which underlines how reassuring important to Brits is the notion of ‘fairness’.