Snared though he is on unreliable, expensive technological futures like a raft of new Nuclear Power plants and the unseemly costs of Carbon Capture with Storage, Ed Miliband does have a sound view of the “long” now : that decisions made now have to lead to a Low Carbon configuration in the decades to come, and that short-term campaigns only go so far in drawing democracy along with you.
Contained in this speech is that hint that Ed Miliband realises that he has to lead, rather than follow, public opinion. And that he needs to construct a framework for leadership that endures; that educates rather than cajoles; that engages rather than pleads; that decides rather than dithers.
I think, on this occasion, Daddy would be proud.
…If we are to tackle climate change in the years after Copenhagen, it is clear we will need to secure change of an unprecedented scale.
The change needs to be very big.
In the United Kingdom we have pledged in law to cut our emissions by eighty percent.
That means we need our electricity and transport systems and homes to be near zero carbon. So we need a dramatic increase in renewable energy – we are planning for a six fold increase by 2020.
We need to dramatically reduce the energy intensity of our homes, with better insulation and more efficient appliances an essential aspect of progress.
And if we are to electrify our transport and heating and allow for the intermittency of wind power, we need the total capacity for power generation to go up even as its carbon pollution goes down.
The changes need to happen quickly. And the change needs to be permanent.
The consensus for change cannot be like the Make Poverty History campaign that was very effective at securing agreement at Gleneagles, but less effective at building a coalition for the long term. This change needs to fundamentally rewrite the way our economy works in perpetuity.
So, it won’t do to make the case for action on the basis of living through exceptional times. We need low carbon to become precisely unexceptional. Without that social acceptance, support for the policy won’t endure in the way it needs to.
To make these changes requires leadership from government, but it also requires us to build and maintain consent. To take that consent for granted is a mistake and to assume we can sustain change without it would be wrong in my view too…