Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Climate Hijack... is it?

Listened to a really interesting programme on Radio 4 the other night put together by Richard Black, the BBC's Environment correspondent, and titled Climate Hijack... the radio show is I think coming off iPlayer in the next day or so, but this article by Black contains pretty much everything and takes 2 minutes to read instead of 30 to listen to!

Black's overall point is that environmental degradation extends far beyond climate change, and in many cases is causing more immediate, and just as significant damage to the world. Taking air quality as an example, at one point he demands of Hilary Benn, 'Shouldn't this be just as important, if not more so, given that it's having an impact now, whereas the impacts of climate change are only projected?'

There is a worrying lack of responsibility in this journalism, I think. Although he's careful to say he's not denying or trying to undermine the importance of climate change, Black's programme will be heard by many as doing exactly that. He fails to recognise some key factors, notably the amplifying role that climate change will play, if unchecked, in all other environmental problems - air quality, habitat destruction, etc will all accelerate if climate change goes unchecked. And he does risk implying that climate change is sorted, constantly referring to the 'huge' political effort being put behind it.

However, there are a couple of really powerful points in there. This one - a point made by Mike Hulme from the Tyndall Centre - is particularly thought provoking, and makes today's launch of the 10:10 initiative all the more important.

"The characteristics of climate change are quite convenient for politicians to use and to deploy both at a popular level but also at a political level," he says.
He argues that climate change is seductive to politicians because it is a long-term issue - so decisive action is always posited for some time in the future, at a time that can always be made yet more distant - and someone else can always be blamed.
So Europeans used to blame the US, the US would blame China and India, and developing countries would blame the entire developed West.
"It's very easy to pass responsibility for failure somewhere else… and in the process of doing that, one is able to keep one's own credibility and record, with the appearance of being much more progressive and constructive."

No comments:

Post a Comment