Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Blair betrays Green Cause

Tony Blair is sufficiently experienced, God knows, to understand that his recent comments on air travel would be interpreted as they have been. His comment that taking long haul flights is perfectly acceptable and that science is the best way to tackle global warming, sounds like something George Bush might say rather than someone who has allegedly been campaigning passionatelyfor the reduction of emissions worldwide. Only the other day Ian Pearson, the junior environment minister, lambasted airlines for not signing up to what is necessary to fight greenhouse gas depredations of the planet.

To them, Pearson needs to add the name of his boss. It is beyond belief that Blair should desert the cause which many of us felt was genuinely close to his heart. Was it truly felt or just careless talk? Either way, it's hugely disappointing as Jonathan Porrit said on the World at One today.
I can see that it is difficult and that there may be limits to what people will accept- I've argued before that many of us are essentially tied to high consumption and will only give up the cars, the food, the flights and the exotic meals kicking and screaming with fingers prized reluctantly away from the door frames of their comfortable lifestyles.

What we needed was a clarion call to change our way of life to save the planet for our children; instead we got a fudged muttering of compromises and unrealities. If we have to wait for science to save the planet we are investing in optimism alone instead of accepting that an obligation rests upon all of us to rein in consumption and live less lavishly. Making compensatory payments offers only partial exoneration; as the leader of the nation Blair has a duty to make an example of his own life. Yet he blithely talks of carrying on with his extravagant high carbon footprint lifestyle. John Gummer, not to mention David Cameron sound a lot more acceptable to the part of me that has turned green over the past decade than the leader of the party to which I belong- and at times like this, I wonder why.

is it not true that giving up flying in its entirety will only cause a three percent drop in emissions worldwide (although it probably won't even do that, given that cargo ships that aren't currently required to meet any emissions standards will take over some of the transport lost by plane, and probably cause an increase).

If you're that committed to reducing pollution then concentrate on, for example, inefficient Chinese and Indian industry. Unfortunately I guess it diesn't feel very radical to try and persuade foreigners that they have to go back to living in farm huts and working 14 hours a day in the fields.

Science *is* the only feasible answer here a) make all industry and transport more effective b) try to make controlled nuclear fusion scientifically possible and economically viable, it's neither possible nor desirable to turn the clock back.
Well, not only is it not 'radical' to ask developing countries to give up the things we have enjoyed for decades, it's not very fair either. That's why the carbon emissions trading idea in the Stern Report offered a way for poorer countries to benefit from the process of cutting emissions.
Anon is right though. The flying thing is as nothing compared to the distribution losses of up to 80% whatever fuels we use to generate electricity for homes and businesses and government. It would be reasonable to export energy localism to China and India in parallel to adopting this as our new paradigm. 80%!! The National Grid was great. But not anymore. And we certainly shouldn't be recommending or building mega grid projects for these economies.

Blair's people did stick out a statement saying that both his work and leisure flights were traded to zero and Porrit hearing this admitted that was useful. Poor Tony was a bit tired I guess. But when he says no politician is going to uniquely proscribe air travel. They may all jump at once. the same goes for nations. Carbon is still - believe it or not - way way down the scale when it comes to voting intentions.
I'm not surprised carbon is a low priority: that merely defines the problem. I agree with the points re how small the UK's emissions are compared to the big players and that curbing home heating etc would be more effective but surely the point re Tony is the personal responsibility issue; given the situation we all have a duty to reduce our carbon footprints- even if others do not accpet that duty?

Maybe I shoudn't go down to the shops in a car when i can walk. But I expect the PM to fly round the world.

You should wind your neck in.
Oh come on now! I'm not saying PMs should not fly around the world on the business of the nation. That's not at issue; it's his private lifestyle which is the problem as this gives out important signals to the rest of the nation.
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