Trevor posted a link at sarahmasen.com to this piece by Rowan Williams in the Independent. As should be expected of Williams it’s both a powerfully succinct summary of the degree of the problem and a source of wonderful soundbites such as
An economics that ignores environmental degradation invites social degradation – in plain terms, violence.
Religious belief claims, in the first place, that I am most fully myself only in relation with my creator; what I am in virtue of this relationship cannot be diminished or modified by any earthly power. In the environment there is a dimension that resists and escapes us: to reduce the world to a storehouse of materials for limited human purposes is thus to put in question any serious belief in an indestructible human value.
Williams goes on to outline a few strategies that could begin to redress the balance and to talk of the new governance structures which are needed. I was reminded a little of the segment of Channel 4 News we caught last week which featured Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Tony Juniper (Friends of the Earth) talking about FoE’s new campaign “The Big Ask.” The campaign is calling for a 3% reduction per year in carbon emissions, and, significantly, proposing a 3% reduction in government ministers’ wages should that target be missed.
Tony Blair spent considerable time during the furore over his litany of mistakes, lies, and failings over the Iraq war insisting that the electorate would deliver their verdict on him through the ballot box. He insisted that that was how democracy ought to work and received little challenge.
As a skillful politician he must have realised that this was a very narrow approach to electoral politics, and one that would work out for him. While most voters do focus on a small number of issues, the only way for voters to responsibly deliver a verdict on a single issue through the ballot box is in a referendum. Blair effectively demonstrated that there is a need for a new way to hold government to account, and FoE’s campaign is a beginning in that.
While I have significant concerns about the concept of performance related pay, it may well turn out to be a strategy that encourages government ministers to set realistic targets and to make them a reality, rather than a platform. It is vital that climate change is recognised as more than a political football, and maybe sensible summaries like Williams’ and campaigns with teeth like FoE’s are a good direction?