Monday, December 28, 2009

response to my anonymous commenter


This is my response to this comment, left on my post about who wrecked Copenhagen (apparently it was the Chinese). Its too big for the comments because of all the text I've pasted in so its earnt its own post:

I'm a little confused by your post as there seems to be some punctuation missing. Possibly I have provoked a fit of frenzied typing. I'm not going to argue about whether the Green Party are left or right as I find such terminology to be redundant and unhelpful and I try to avoid them.

The group who wrote the Green New Deal (please note the lack of Lib Dems) are:
  • Larry Elliott (Economics Editor of the Guardian)
  • Colin Hines (Co-Director of Finance for the Future, former head of Greenpeace International’s Economics Unit)
  • Tony Juniper (former Director of Friends of the Earth)
  • Jeremy Leggett (founder and Chairman of Solarcentury and SolarAid)
  • Caroline Lucas (Green Party Leader & MEP)
  • Richard Murphy (Co-Director of Finance for the Future and Director, Tax Research LLP)
  • Ann Pettifor (former head of the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign, Campaign Director of Operation Noah)
  • Charles Secrett (Advisor on Sustainable Development, former Director of Friends of the Earth)
  • Andrew Simms (Policy Director, the new economics foundation)
I advocate a Green New Deal (a real one, not Brown's pathetic greenwash) because the policies proposed in the document offer to help remediate three of the most challenging issues of our time. I am profoundly apolitical when it comes to supporting such action. I will quote the executive summary in full:

"The global economy is facing a ‘triple crunch’. It is a combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices underpinned by an encroaching peak in oil production. These three overlapping events threaten to develop into a perfect storm, the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression. To help prevent this from happening we are proposing a Green New Deal.

This entails re-regulating finance and taxation plus a huge transformational programme aimed at substantially reducing the use of fossil fuels and in the process tackling the unemployment and decline in demand caused by the credit crunch. It involves policies and novel funding mechanisms that will reduce emissions contributing to climate change and allow us to cope better with the coming energy shortages caused by peak oil.

The triple crunch of financial meltdown, climate change and ‘peak oil’ has its origins firmly rooted in the current model of globalisation. Financial deregulation has facilitated the creation of almost limitless credit. With this credit boom have come irresponsible and often fraudulent patterns of lending, creating inflated bubbles in assets such as property, and powering environmentally unsustainable consumption.

This approach hit the buffers of insolvency and unrepayable debts on what we think of as ‘debtonation day’, 9 August 2007, when the banks suddenly fully understood the scale of debts on the balance sheets of other banks, and stopped lending to each other.

In the same year, natural disasters struck body blows to entire national economies, and rising prices began to alert the world to the potential scarcity of oil. At both ends of the climatic spectrum, Australia saw a prolonged drought decimate its domestic grain production, and Mexico saw floods wipe out the agricultural production of an entire large state. In the oil markets, growing numbers of whistleblowers pointed to the probability of an early peak in production, and a possible subsequent collapse of production. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said an oil crunch is likely in 2012.

Drawing our inspiration from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s courageous programme launched in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929, we believe that a positive course of action can pull the world back from economic and environmental meltdown. The Green New Deal that we are proposing consists of two main strands. First, it outlines a structural transformation of the regulation of national and international financial systems, and major changes to taxation systems. And, second, it calls for a sustained programme to invest in and deploy energy conservation and renewable energies, coupled with effective demand management."

As for the transition movement, whilst I applaud the sentiment it is simply laughable to suggest that it can make more than a tiny difference, what with the eminent lack of broad public support for sustainable development, and that will be too little and too late. As George Monbiot observes, the only plausible solution to climate change, peak oil, and the economic meltdown involves the mobilisation of the nation and its resources as if for war. Its a battle for our children's survival.


  1. Sorry if I’ve confused you, my argument is simply that the GND is environmental Keynesianism, not eco-socialism, and this seems to be a contradiction with both your position and the current prevailing ideology of the majority in the GPEW.

    ‘The Cut Won’t Work’ the second report of the GND group ( was edited by David Boyle a fellow of the New Economics Foundation (, and a member of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee. I’m not suggesting David wrote it or was part of the group. The GND is very good it chimes with current Lib Dem policy – but socialism it isn’t.
    Unlike most of your party colleagues you don’t want to argue about whether the Green Party is left or right; yet you use the almost interchangeable terms socialism and capitalism freely - surely terminology equally unhelpful, because of what people conventionally associate these terms to mean. Your blog does not seem to mention Schumacher at all (apologies if I’ve missed it). A large part of the Green Party does seem to want to argue that the GPEW is/or should be ‘left’. The Ecology/Green Party used to offer a politics that transcended the shop-worn prejudices of right and left and took a holistic view of the individual, society and humanity's place in the web of life. Green politics were defined as beyond left and right, and would balance individual liberty with community (human interdependence) and the interdependence of all life on Earth - not anymore!
    Greens and Liberals used to share a lots beliefs; the 1979 Liberal Party Assembly declared that “economic growth, as conventionally understood, was not indefinite, thus marking a move towards sustainability essential” a view the old Ecology/Green Party would have agreed with.

    Even as late as the 90’s Greens and Liberals were working together. In 1995 using Diana Maddock’s private members’ bill, Liberal Democrats introduced and pushed through the Home Energy Conservation Act, a bill written by the Green Party in consultation with Friends of the Earth and fuel poverty groups. This marked the first time that legislation written by a non-parliamentary party ever made it onto the Statute books. Don Foster’s private members’ bill that led to the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 was not just a Liberal Democrat project, it was also written in large part by the Green Party and Friends of the Earth.

  2. PS “apparently it was the Chinese” no I never said that, four countries stand out : United States, People Republic of China, and India, and South Africa. They have nearly half the world's CO2 emissions and over half of the world's industrial workers. The four are big coal producers (coal, as I’m sure you are aware is the worst fossil fuel). China, the US and India are the three biggest coal producers in the world and South Africa is fifth. As a result they will find it harder, and more expensive, to cut emissions than the European nations. Both trades unions and corporations have enormous political influence. Cop’s failure is Coal’s triumph.

  3. Dude, that is awesome. You are the proverbial font.

    You are dead right about my use of the terms capitalism and socialism. Its one of those bits of terminology that I'm wary of using but can't be arsed to avoid much of the time because there are no easy alternatives to describing political philosophy that won't turn into a rant-fest. Keynesianism is a good one that's made a big resurgence lately.

    I'm not suggesting that the GND is socialism. I'm convinced that "socialism" as a political movement is terminally ill thanks to opposing ideologies continual success at portraying it as a step away from communism. I can't even claim to understand much of socialist philsosophy- for example, the difference between Trotsky and Marx. All I advocate is a fairer system and when people talk about socialism it sounds like exactly that. That doesn't mean I am completely anti-capitalist. I have a copy of Jonathon Porritt's book "Capitalism as if the World Matters" and I think he has some great ideas to change the nature of public ownership of services and to reform how corporations are owned and managed. I'm fascinated by the history of the Green Party you mention, which I wasn't unaware of but didn't really appreciate. That "holistic view of the individual, society and humanity's place in the web of life" sounds exactly like the sort of third-way politics that appeals to me. I confess to never having heard of EF Schumacher before now.

    My issue with the Lib Dems is that they don't espouse sustainability as a guiding principle. That's it. There's nothing more guaranteed to make me rant and rave than refusing to acknowledge the limits to human growth and development. This scientific fact drives much Green Party policy, despite attempts by the tree-huggers and hippies to dress it up in mysticism and earth-mother-worship. Lib Dem adoption of evidence-based policies created by the GP doesn't surprise me. The whole point about evidence-based policy is that it is self-evidently the right thing to do! I can't help but feel that the reason its the Lib Dems who end up getting it onto the statute books is mere populism.



Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.