By James Hubbard.
As part of our series of blogs introducing the Young Fabians Policy Commissions 2013 James Hubbard argues that we need to reframe environmentalism away from traditional left-right divides.
Could we report that ‘we are all environmentalists now’?
Probably not. But few contest the view that it remains one of the greatest challenges that we face. As is always the case, policymakers are presented with competing options and (here’s where it’s even more conventional) this area is traditionally seen as a left-right divide issue.
Well, we hope to do something about that. This policy commission’s premise is that it is possible to reframe the debate along new lines and, as was seen in the US following Hurricane Sandy, that being a ‘climate voter’ is not a question of political allegiance but of national interest, economic win-win and sound principle.
With this policy commission, we will explore policy options related to climate change, energy and the environment. The central theme is ‘resilience’ and all recommendations will be subject to this standard. The driving belief is that the pillars which support a sustainable economy, society and environment are consistent and policy interventions can deliver mutually supportive benefits across all three.
We stand at a critical juncture in national and international efforts to resolve our environmental impact. Decisions affecting our energy futures are being taken. International negotiations regarding the costs and impacts of climate change are being debated. Competing investment opportunities regarding more or less sustainable innovation options are being made across many industries.
Out of this process, how resilient will our economy, society and environment be? How effectively are our leaders giving us the best chances of long term competitiveness, defending national interest and making progress towards resolving major global issues?
Looking at one area of policy in isolation does not allow us to see the full picture. Let’s take energy. Inevitably, consumers and energy providers are driven to energy generation at the lowest possible cost. The combined pressure of consumer demand and market competition drive prices to the lowest possible short term levels.
But such a situation has spurred massive energy imports in recent years, destroying hopes of energy independence and ensuring reliance on foreign regimes, not to mention lost investments in growing sustainable energy industries based in the UK.
If that weren’t enough, Jeremy Grantham – one of the world’s foremost investors and a predictor of all the major financial crises of recent decades – has argued that we sit on the brink of a ‘carbon bubble’ driven by speculation on fossil fuel reserves across the world.
How resilient is that? We’d say not much.
Throughout this policy commission an exploration of resilience will throw different perspectives on current issues, adding up to a number of Big Ideas for 2015 in areas such as energy, innovation and investment, foreign affairs, jobs, education and many more.
The commission aims to prove that much vaunted economic win-wins on climate change, energy and the environment aren’t a pipe dream, but opportunities whose time has come.
James Hubbard is chair of the Young Fabians Policy Commission on environmental challenges. You can sign up to be involved in the Young Fabians Policy Commissions here – http://bit.ly/11ulMLw.