|Sunset over Fryent Country Park, Kingsbury|
Here are some comments from Jonathan Neale as a taster for what should be a stimulating discussion:
The threat from climate change is so large that a big programme of public works and government investment is needed. But this comes up against the ideology of neoliberalism – the idea that private is good and public is bad.
Government investment and regulation to fight climate change would challenge this ideology. It means that many governments try to take action through market instruments, such as carbon trading, instead.
If people saw that governments could intervene in the market to save the planet, they would start asking questions. Why can’t governments do the same in the health service? Business doesn’t want people asking those questions.
Climate change is a global problem and needs a global solution. But governments and corporations work on the basis of competition not co-operation. Dealing with climate change means dealing with that.
Stopping climate change is no small task. But action by ordinary people has led to huge changes in the past – from ending colonialism and slavery to developing the welfare state in Britain.
To stop climate change we’re told ordinary people will have to sacrifice. But the key is to shift to using different resources, not less. If we think that we can’t change how we do things then we’ll conclude that we have to sacrifice.
The real problem is that people don’t feel they can change how things are done. The best response I think is to look at the Second World War. All major countries shifted what their economies did because of the war effort.
Now we have to change the economy in the same way – but to save as many lives as possible rather than to kill as many people as possible.
It shows what is possible if the political will is there. What we have now is a lack of political will.
Governments will not take the measures needed to stop climate change unless we build a mass movement that forces them to. This is not just about the environmental movement.
It’s a matter of building all the movements for a better world, including the anti-war movement and the anti-globalisation movement.
We face a choice. We can rely on the rich and powerful to solve the problem from the top. Or we can look to the mass of ordinary people across the planet to force change and run society in a different way.