8 Apr 2009

G20 failure

A colleague forwarded this letter in Saturday's Guardian to me - it does sum up some of the failures of the G20. Stroud Greens also have a response - see below.
The G20 (Report, 3 April) are doomed to fail in the long term, because they suffer from the common delusion that the "laws" of economics trump those of physics. But alas, they don't. The planet is finite; proverbially, "anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist". Therefore "normal growth" - the mirage pushed by all the G20 - is an oxymoron. It is physically impossible. An economic system that might actually endure will have to be based on the laws of physics and the concepts of: sustainability, not growth; enough not more; conservation not throughput; need not want; quality of life not quantity of product; natural income not natural capital; local not global; 100% recycling; 100% renewable energy; and gentle sine curves, with equal ups and downs, not exponentials(x% per annum) as now, leading to ever greater crashes. A precondition of success is a stable or reducing population. But, of course, no G20 debate on any of these.
Roger Martin, Upper Croxley, Somerset.

Some reports of the G20 summit make it sound like a success. However the outcomes for British industry and the planet are not the much needed shot in the arm but rather more of the same - just what got us into this mess in the first place.

Gordon Brown's approach has been a huge missed opportunity. In Britain he's pushing for jobs-poor, environmentally dubious technology in the form of so-called 'clean coal,' and equally jobs-poor but dangerous technology in the form of nuclear. And on the world stage he's managed to pull off a global stimulus that includes less than seven per cent climate-friendly investment.

Britain's over-reliance on financial services has been a spectacular failure. Instead we need investment to kick-start the Green industrial revolution that will give us the economy of the future - a balanced economy that includes a balanced range of world class manufacturing and self-reliance on energy. We have a golden opportunity to beat the recession and the climate crisis in one - and we're wasting it.

Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins has accused G20 of "short-changing the planet". The G20 leaders don't seem to understand that the policies we need for tackling climate change, a Green New Deal, can also create jobs and lift people out of poverty.

There is a potential win-win outcome - if only our leaders have the vision to grasp it. We need more Greens in elected office, because we need to push parliaments and assemblies and local councils towards a better understanding and a better set of policies.

Councillor Martin Whiteside, Thrupp, Stroud
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud

Meanwhile it was enormously sad to read of the death of Iam Tomlinson, one of the demonstrators. Green London Assembly member has already embarked on questioning the police - Gayle O'Donovan, a Green party member who was there said: "The behaviour of the police was the worst I have seen on any demonstration." See other witness statements here. Guardian has video which I saw last night of the man being assaulted by police at the G20 protests prior to his death - I hear the police are now planning a full investigation - certainly it is shocking to see:

As Johann Hari said in The Independent it is the protestors we should be listening to - see his article here where he says: "The protesters here in London were trying to sound an alarm now, at five minutes to ecological midnight."

Some newspapers covered scientists like Professor Hansen who said of the politicians that "their 'planet in peril' rhetoric is probably just that - empty rhetoric." The Green Party have been pointing this out for many years, while at the same time stressing the right greenhouse gas targets as far as possible and spelling out the full range of policies needed to meet those targets in a globally and locally equitable manner. Peter Cranie, a Green party Euro candidate commented: "As a scientist you can assess the truth of this by means of observation and analysis. Now, has the crisis reached the point where as a scientist you should start spelling out which political party has the right policies?"

In addition to growing concerns re climate change the recession is biting hard in key areas. The cost of basic living has shot up in the past 12 months: power has gone up 22%, food 11%, and transport fares 8%. We do need to act now on a real Green New Deal. Gordon Brown has just promised an environmentally friendly Budget later this month to kick start a "green recovery" - we'll keep fingers-crossed as so far news has not been good...

The 535-million-pound ($750 million) “green stimulus” announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in November included only 100 million pounds of new funds. Most of the funds are merely accelerated spending on railways and energy efficiency already pledged in future budgets. Taking money out of a budget two years down the road and bringing it forward to this year doesn’t really count as a ‘green new deal’ at all. Darling has also retracted a commitment to tax airlines on each flight rather than on each passenger and withdrawn a measure that would have increased taxes on higher-emitting vehicles that have already been purchased. But I've rambled enough on this one time for a mug of tea...

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