Recalling the first Apollo moon landing, Ed Miliband tries to make the noble, heartwarming case for spending lots of public money in The Guardian :-
“One giant leap for a greener Britain : Only an Apollo-like effort of imagination and action will help us move to a low carbon economy : Ed Miliband, secretary of state for energy and climate change : guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 July 2009 21.00 BST : Forty years since the Eagle landed on the moon, the idea of a new Apollo project has become shorthand for how we should tackle climate change: politics forcing through the technological limits, a decade-long push, and a nation unified for a shared goal. The Guardian’s Manchester Report last week showed there are plenty of reasons for optimism about the technologies that can take us into the low-carbon future. But like Apollo, the challenge of climate change is to combine political will with technological leapfrog – and, in fact, the political challenge is almost unparalleled in human history. We can’t all be rocket scientists (or climate scientists), but every one of us is needed for the political moonshot of today…”
Trouble is, from my point of view, and I know it’s a pretty jaded, shredded kind of point of view, but all the same, I think that we should be careful not to jump into Ed Miliband’s open arms like soft, curly sheep, or we might find we are being fleeced.
Because it’s all very well telling us the Low Carbon Transition is going to cost us :-
“…we need to win some big and difficult arguments to create consensus. To do this we need to be candid about the pressures created by the transition to low carbon and show we will try to alleviate them where we can. When I launched the plan, last week, I said energy prices were likely to rise by 2020. We need to convince people that despite the costs, the transition is right because the costs of not acting are much greater, and high-carbon fossil fuels offer an insecure future. We need to find ways of making the transition as fair as we can, insulating particularly the poorest people from these effects…”
but what is that money going to be used for ?
Most people at this point would say “wind farms”, and they’d be partly right, but there’s an awful lot of money being thrown at things that are less benign and much less worthwhile, and you’re not being told about it in this article.
You’re being asked to agree to the principle of the Low Carbon Transition without being given a spreadsheet of where the commitments are being made and being given a chance to critique the budget.
Nuclear Power and Carbon Capture and Storage are not mentioned once in Ed’s morale-building article, but we should all know that there is more than a strong underlying intention to bailout the Nuclear and Coal Energy industries using public money.
Don’t fall for the “social consensus” argument without knowing what you are signing on the dotted line for.
The UNFCCC and the European Union have effectively ceded control of the choice of Climate Change “mitigation” technologies to the large mining and Energy companies, and I, personally, don’t want to be part of a consensus like that. Their choices are for the good of themselves, and not the best choices for the planet.
I am not “building” my “resolve” to join with Ed Miliband and his team. I am actually rather turned off :-
“…However, building the resolve of a country, let alone a planet, is a big ask. Change happens not just because leaders want it, but because people demand it. Groups are springing up to persuade people to act on climate change. They ally the power of imagination – the rocket on the moon – with the power of example, action in their own lives. They must also be the kernel of the movement, sustained and broad, that we need to exert pressure on governments up to Copenhagen and beyond. While this week we celebrate Apollo, it is persuasion, campaigning and political argument, not just technological advance, that will generate the giant leaps humankind needs on climate change.”
This is heroic, Hollywood language, standing on the shoulders of the childhood wonder of those that watched the original Apollo landings on TV. It’s not genuine sentiment as far as I’m concerned. We are asked to use our creative power of imagination, language that attempts to draw on our deep reserves of trust.
It’s a salesman’s pitch. I’m not convinced.