Friday, August 15, 2008

Climate change for agenda pushing?

One idea that was not uncommon at the Camp for Climate Action was that people have started using climate change to push there own political agenda. More specifically, Climate Camp has a distinct anti-capitalist flavour. Some therefore see the advancement of an anti capitalist agenda as extra baggage that we are being persuaded to drag along with our attempts to mitigate climate change. We certainly don't need extra baggage, this is a long and arduous journey. The other side of this, that many at climate camp actually conceive as there position, is that climate change is a product of capitalist society and that although--in the technical sense--all we need to do is reduce emissions, we wont be able to do this without progress on a much larger political agenda.

I pointed out these two distinct positions at a climate camp meeting, i also argued in favour of the latter position. In 1988 the WCED produced a report called 'Our Common Future' which gave an overview of our planet's situation, and a framing of the issues as development and economic issues not narrowly environmental. Despite the modern framing and clarity, the report has largely failed in mobilising the world on the requisite scale. There are two options that could explain this, firstly, there wasn't enough knowledge throughout society of the issues being discussed and not enough people to push the agenda, secondly, the report could have missed out an important angle. It seems to me simply based on the scope of the report that the sidelining of political and economic power in its analysis was likely to be at least partly responsible for the lack of movement created. However, the best evidence for this is included in the report, it seems to highlight its own deficiencies--there are conclusions that the report seems to suggest but does not articulate.

So those are two extreme positions, the technical approach is where people start when connections are not obvious to them. The latter position is where they may end up if they don't see the possibility of serious reform as a worthy alternative to dismantling the capitalist system. I`m currently a reformist capitalist with doubts about this approach but with the belief that it can allow progress if not solution of our planets immediate convergent crisis.

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