Countries around the world have remained steadfast in their commitment to reducing carbon emissions and the two most populated countries are leading by example. India and China have long been some of the highest polluting states however they are now using the wealth that they have created in recent years to invest in sustainable growth. Specifically these countries have decided to become world leaders in renewable energy generation and new statistics out in the last few weeks indicate how seriously India and China are taking the transition to clean electricity.
When Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement the world stood firm in opposition to his idiotic decision. Something that was noteworthy from the time of the announcement was the number of governors and mayors who said that they intended to stand by commitments to reduce carbon emissions. This act of refusal is important because it shows how representatives outside of the federal government can tackle climate change even if the President has the intellectual calibre of an especially dim squirrel. The environmental movement has to use its resources carefully and focus its energies on ways to do serious damage to those corporations that are, in large part, responsible for the current climate crisis.
When politicians want to pay lip service to preventing climate change they often speak about phasing out fossil fuels and switching over to clean energy. Obviously there is nothing wrong with what these politicians are saying, but only speaking about this aspect of climate change ignores a few other issues. Climate change is framed as something that we need to prevent, but actually it’s something that we need to reverse. Temperatures are already rising, ice caps are already melting, and oceans are already becoming more acidic. If policy-makers are going to make a substantial difference, measures to reverse the existing damage are essential.
This morning the government approved plans to construct a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The power station is expected to cost around £18 billion, with £12 billion provided by EDF, which is partially owned by the French government, and the remaining £6 billion of investment from CGN, which is totally owned by the Chinese government. The irrationality of this situation is clearly on display with the intervention of foreign governments, but the cost is also too much. The government should not have approved this deal, and should have instead mandated investment in small-scale renewables rather than monolithic structures distant from communities.
The issue of Trident renewal has been in the headlines and one of the main criticisms of the British government’s position has been the exorbitant cost of the missiles. However this piece isn’t about Trident. In the wake of the vote on Syria, critics of Britain’s intervention pointed to, among other things, the unmentioned financial cost of bombing the livings shit out of Middle Eastern country. But this piece isn’t about foreign policy. In 2008 £500 billion was spent on bailing out the British banking system due to their reckless and under-regulated behaviour. But this piece isn’t about financial policy either.
This article is about priorities. Whenever there is a threat to the country that is tangible, like the threat of economic collapse or a nuclear holocaust, fiscal prudence goes out the window. On the issue of climate change however the same rhetoric around ‘belt-tightening’ is deployed by the government and the right-wing elements of the media. Not only should renewable energy be seen as a necessity to prevent us all from dying, which to be honest should be motivation enough, it would be economically beneficial. The government should do some Keynesian-style capital investment in green technology.