Our New Green Hero
by Jo Abbess
19th December 2008
After the first flush of the cool promise of Obama Heaven, I bring you our new green hero : The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the UK Government Department of Energy and Climate Change, or DECC.
Apparently, Ed considers the outrageous slings and unfortunate arrows of criticism, (and I presume he means negative criticism), as part of his job description.
“Miliband: Criticism ‘part of job'”
Why does he think he has to face such opposition, and why does he think it is necessary, when the Government has just rocked the House of Commons with a storming Climate Change Bill, guaranteeing in Law an 80% reduction in Carbon Emissions by 2050, with immense public, scientific and political support ?
It’s potentially all revealed in this little paragraph “Popular pressure must be exerted on decision makers to ensure progress on cutting emissions was made, he argued.”
So what he’s after is some big public show of support for policies on Climate Change. Even after the Friends of the Earth Big Ask campaign, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition actions in the last few years, and the clear involvement of thousands in Climate Camp each Summer.
He clarified that message again recently, notoriously, on 8th December :-
“Ed Miliband urges ‘popular mobilisation’ to tackle climate change”
“People power vital to climate deal – minister”
This was, spookily, the very same day that protesters shutdown Stansted Airport :-
“Climate activists held after Stansted runway protest”
Resonant, but were these two things actually related ? You bet they were.
People are clearly not impressed by announcements on “support” for new Nuclear Power, whatever that word “support” actually turns out to mean.
All around the World, Nuclear New Build is having a tough time, with projects stalling or coming in late with “spiralling costs”.
People are also not really impressed by big technofix solutions being dressed up for us on a plate, such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which is really transparent window dressing for burning ever greater quantities of cheap Coal, which we can dig up unprettily and messily at home.
And where’s the kit to pump the resulting greenhouse gases back into the ground ? Ah, it’s being tested. For a while. Perhaps a decade.
Is there a remote possibility that Ed Miliband wants the Great British Public to support policies that are irrational, expensive and impossible to complete ?
We already know which way he swings, Energy-orientation-wise. He’s no scientist or engineer, so he doesn’t perceive the pitfalls about Carbon Capture and Storage.
But that doesn’t stop him wholeheartedly backing the United Nations core policy on Coal, concreted over the last five years or so; nor the European commitment to use much of the proceeds of Carbon Permit Auctions to finance Carbon Capture and Storage business.
He clearly hasn’t read the reams and reams of reports from Nuclear technician and engineering experts on the fallibility, the solid risks of new Nuclear Power projects.
He clearly hasn’t got the background in the 50 years of Energy Waste that is the Coal-fired centralised electricity generation industry.
He just goes along with all this, seemingly without question, for example dropping this into a recent speech, under cover of hinting at future National ownership of new Energy :-
“Miliband: Dynamic markets “not enough” for UK energy : …
The Secretary of State said the best prospects for future energy would be based on a “trinity” of renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems for fossil fuel plants. … ”
He has clearly been nobbled, and nobbled at the highest level of order.
His strategy ? Suggest we all club together (again) and mass mobilise against him. Or is that for him, actually ? Are we being manipulated ? It has lose-lose potential, and most people with any knowledge will have none of it.
The Climate Safety Report made much of the supposedly cool connection to Government policymakers that PIRC.info and many others enjoy, by backing the idea of “mass mobilisation”.
Ah, the heady, verbose, sickly-sweet air of Social Science.
And today, The Guardian Newspaper ran an article by Richard Wilson, author of such worthy tomes as “People and Participation” and “Post Party Politics” :-
“Climate change: ‘We need to unleash the power of the masses'”
Your Energy and Climate Change Minister is asking you to support really, really bad plans, and to do so in a network of engaged Citizens.
My view is : you can forget what has worked in the past, even the recent past.
Don’t try to offer me such ideas as “campaigning networks” or “wider social engagement”.
We’re all completely insane if we think that what used to work in Society will work now. Everything’s changed.
Look around you and see.