Economy and Climate Change

#30Days30Voices

The general election campaign is in full swing, with Westminster’s main parties drawing the battle lines over key issues including: economic growth, health care and education. But take a step back from mainstream media reporting, and you’ll notice the endangered elephant in the room. Climate change continues to be a neglected issue.

In September 2015, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are due to be launched; an integrated set of goals designed to promote environmental sustainability, economic development and poverty reduction. That the UK general election subordinates environmental concerns to that of neoliberal economic growth is worrying for two reasons.

First, the UK wields a lot of influence in formulating the SDGs. Second, it shows political disregard to the fact that our society and our economy are bound by a natural biophysical system that sustains life on earth. This disregard extends across the global platform.

Neoliberal attitudes to economic stimulus over the last forty years have led to a global system based on inequality, exploitation, and rising global temperatures, threatening the future of our planet. Environmentally damaging and unsustainable human consumption is leading to fatal destruction: mass deforestation, collapsing ecosystems, and the extinction of diverse animal species.

Between 1970 and 2010, over half of the planet’s wildlife species were lost, as a direct result of burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. According to a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Brazil and Indonesia, responsible for the world’s largest deforestation over the last two decades, continue to abuse their natural resources, handing out $40bn (£27bn) in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuel sectors between 2009-2012 – 126 times more than the $346m they received to protect and preserve their rainforests from the UN’s REDD+ scheme.

Meanwhile, a shell oil tanker moves closer to the Alaskan Arctic, despite over 6 million online petitions protesting against Arctic drilling.

As a result of global warming, pollution, and rapid rates of industrialisation, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, larger than the entire area of the UK and Ireland, is under threat of collapse, while the last male northern white rhinoceros on the planet has been placed under 24-hour armed guard in Kenya, to act as a protection against ivory poachers. Wildlife experts expect the extinction of wild Rhinoceros by 2020.

Bees, responsible for pollinating crop species that feed 90% of the world’s population, are dying at an alarming rate due to unregulated pesticide use, with potentially disastrous consequences for the global human population. World food markets will be damaged, and an increasing global population will feel increasingly hungrier if action to protect bees is not taken.

The evidence demonstrates that current models of economic growth are unstable, and unsustainable. It is the responsibility of our government to take a leading role in tackling climate change abroad, while taking action at home to reduce carbon emissions, and introduce environmentally friendly policies.

Fracking should be abandoned, with increased investment in renewable energy sources, such as off-shore wind generation and solar panels. Pesticides ought to be dramatically reduced, instead prioritising non-chemical farming methods through improved education, safe-farming legislation, and the promotion or organic farming. The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs should research, support, and promote farming methods that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enable carbon storage.

Lessons in how to create affordable housing can be learnt at a local level, such as Liverpool’s ‘Homes For a Pound’ scheme, encouraging regeneration of abandoned properties rather than development on greenfield sites. Grassroots activism should be encouraged, with subsidies given to those with creative solutions to environmental problems. One such example is ‘Bee The Change’, a social enterprise in Bristol which has been setting up communally run beehives around the city alongside an education programme teaching people to live sustainably.

Now more than ever, we have to advocate the importance of keeping climate change below 2C. In December 2015 world leaders will meet in Paris for the UN’s Climate Change Conference. It is importance we put the pressure on our politicians, especially now during the General Election, to start taking our environmental concerns seriously. The Earth’s resources are finite, and we must protect them. Everything we make, and everything we consume, comes from the Earth. And we only have one. It’s time to heal the wounds of our planet, for the benefit of mankind’s collective future.

James Crawley, Y Care International volunteer, part of the action/2015 youth network

#action2015youth

#action2015youth

For more information on the action/2015 campaign and youth click here. The action/2015 Youth Panel is co-facilitated by British Youth Council, BOND, Islamic Relief, Progressio and Restless Development and Y Care International.

One thought on “Economy and Climate Change

  1. This negative message is frightening but it is not working. The positive alternative message does not seem big enough to really make a difference. We need to shift government thinking. Politicians are not scientists. They are not economists and they are not the greatest of businessmen. This means that they are lobbied by people who they are in awe of and therefore influenced by.
    I have put together below an argument for changing the way economics are thought about. Economists talk about GDP like it is the holy grail. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) theory says that the more we produce then the more we will have left over to export. This is in fact the opposite of green thinking. So we have to have a different goal for success.
    Secondly I have argued why business cannot deliver green goals. Business wants us to consume more and feed the GDP Engine. So I have argued how consuming less can make us richer as a nation.
    I do not want to deny what has been done. In such a hostile environment any achievement needs flagging up. But what needs to be done is truly massive. I understand that the green party is already in total concordance with what I am saying and therefore it is nothing new. But it needs to be said all over the place in as many ways as possible.
    Tell me what you think of this….. And if you can see how to make it much better and easier to believe then show me.

    Why The Green economy threatens growth.

    It is not a proven path. Just listen to Dragons Den and you know that there are plenty of opportunities for a sure fire fast buck.
    It does not offer a return. Saving consumption shrinks the economy. This is anathema to business. It is not a sustain able income path.

    Why growth is not always good.

    Economists all seem to agree that growing the economy increases wealth. That is like saying that getting fatter is always good. Not all growth is good.
    When the light bulb was invented it was developed to the point where it could last for 30 years.
    The bigger the light bulb factory the more automated and hence cheaper the bulb became to make.
    Hence the biggest manufacturers came together to make sure the bulb would not last too long and put them out of business. (If you are now buying LED bulbs get them quick because current models last 12 years).
    We have an economy that has huge investment in the car. To threaten this would jeopordise growth. But maybe this investment is not good. For instance when the M25 jams up with its 3 or 4 lanes of traffic lots of investors are making money.
    Two thirds of the cars are one quarter full and most occupants are tiring themselves out driving.
    So its good for some businesses and very bad for others who can do nothing about it.
    If this huge majority of travelers were on public transport then there would be two or three lanes of public transport running like the London tubes and buses at 2 minute intervals. The roads and railways would be ten times less congested and people could travel faster and with less effort.
    The long term effect would reduce growth because trains and buses need less replacing than cars. The wear on roads would reduce thus depressing growth. Car sales and garage services would slump. The oil industry would raise its hands in horror at the loss of fuel sales.
    The chances of long term growth in such a scenario are frankly abysmal.
    Economists follow their mantras like religious fanatics.

    Green Economics.
    The less we consume the less we import. If we have less imports then we can export less and balance our payments.

    We export more because the low consumption model has a demonstrable benefit to those who do not have it. So our internal benefits become exportable.

    We can have railway carriages using less fuel than cars. Not fantasy because these ideas are already in prototype.
    We can have houses that generate enough solar energy to eliminate the need to be connected to the national grid. Solar panels, insulation and batteries are making this possible now.

    Norway and Sweden have villages and towns that are self sufficient in heating. It can be done.

    We can make our own goods and grow some of our own food. The slump in growth would be enormous but if we balance our imports and exports then we are in profit. We have balanced the books and we can then forget about GDP.

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