The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, certainly wasn’t messing about in her first major speech, delivered yesterday.
“It cannot be left to one part of the political spectrum to dictate the solution – and some of the loudest voices have approached the issue from a left-wing perspective. So I can understand the suspicion of those who see climate action as some sort of cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism.
“It was Margaret Thatcher who first put climate change on the international agenda. She said ‘the danger of global warming is real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.’ I agree.”
As you can imagine, she was attacked by the environmental lobby. Some of the criticism was understandable and even necessary –the government for which she is a part has not got off to a flying start on this issue to say the least. The hypocrisy tag applied by Friends of the Earth was harsh, but I could see their angle. However, predictably, none of them addressed the central point she was making, i.e. the climate change debate becoming monopolised by left-wing solutions, thinking and people. That’s because Amber was spot on in her assessment on this.
So long as climate change is seen as some sort of left-wing only cause, it will suffer. Like feminism or electoral reform, environmentalism will be put in a box marked “For Jeremy Corbyn types only”. It is depressing to watch, if you believe that climate change is one of the central issues of our time, the whole thing being coupled together with socialism and the “post-capitalist” agenda.
This does damage in two ways. One, it takes something vital such as trying to preserve the Earth for future generations and associates it with economic solutions most of the country doesn’t want and further more, thinks are unrealistic. The second way it hurts the green cause is that far-left politics doesn’t have the greatest record on the climate to put it mildly. The USSR has perhaps the worst CV in this regard in the entire history of nation states, from Chernobyl to the destruction of the Aral Sea. So the idea that the further left a government goes, the more caring they are of the environment has been proven incorrect by history on many occasions.
I have long ranted about the Green Party and how their attachment to far-left politics has hurt the environmental movement as a whole. I think people like Friends of the Earth, while being critical of the Tory government when it genuinely hurts the agenda, needs also to try and embrace people on the Right when they declare taking steps to avoid further man made climate change to be vital. In amongst the “hypocrisy” jibes, it would have been nice for the environmental lobby to have made note of a Tory energy minister agreeing with Margaret Thatcher on the notion that “the danger of global warming is real enough for to make changes and sacrifices”. They should have welcomed that fact – and then asked Amber to put her money where her mouth is. This, instead of knee-jerk anti-Toryism, would have been preferable.
My main worry is that Britain becomes like America in this regard – where climate change denial is almost de rigueur on the Right. Convince conservatives that climate change is a crock and your chances of doing anything about it shrink accordingly. Particularly when they are going to be in power for the foreseeable future.