Tuesday 13 May 2008

The fine art of greenwashing

Helen Clark is backing away from grand pronouncements about “carbon neutrality” as fast as new information emerges showing just how serious and imminent the threat of catastrophic climate change is. The Labour government’s planned emissions trading scheme is being widely condemned for excluding NZ’s biggest polluters until many years from now. Large industrial emitters and the farming sector will get "free credits" based on 90 per cent of their 2005 emission levels, which won't start phasing out until 2018, reaching zero twelve years later in 2030! Current evidence emerging from the climate scientists is that tipping points for irreversible and catastrophic climate change may be only 5-10 years away (see Jim Hansen, the Big Ice Melt & the Mainstream Media). What does this say about the government's commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions? But emissions trading was never going to be the answer. It was just one the corporates and their government allies thought they could sell us. It’s been a big con-job from the start. Like the European scheme, emissions were never going to be "capped" at a level that might actually hurt the profits of polluters. And anyway, the big polluters can just pass on any extra costs resulting from the scheme. The costs are pushed down (once again!) on to ordinary people who are forced to pay more for electricity, petrol, food, etc. This is one of the points that's made in a new pamphlet by Ian Angus, editor of the Climate and Capitalism website. How to Avoid Action on Climate Change focuses on the Canadian government’s preference for “market mechanisms”. Ian has collected together nine readable essays on “the fine art of greenwashing as practiced by federal and provincial politicians in Canada”. Something NZ's politicians in parliament have shown a skill for. Climate change activists need to be armed with the arguments against “market mechanisms” so that we can then start campaigning for urgent public solutions to the crisis. Ian's pamphlet is a very good place to start. Also read an earlier recently updated pamphlet from Climate and Capitalism, Confronting the Climate Change Crisis: An Ecosocialist Perspective

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