Climate change; the biggest elephant in the election

Trump pays back his fossil-fuel backers and takes the US back to the early 20th century

All praise President Trump. News that he was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement meant that the yawning absence of this election (and previous ones) at least got a mention. While journalists focus on the minutiae of who will lose out from taxing the top 5%, the costs of this or that policy and whether or not politicians are ‘strong’ or not, we can carry looting the planet and its natural resources with impunity.

A BBC journalist, when reporting the unsurprising Trump decision, inadvertently described dangerous climate change as ‘arguably, the most important issue we face’. Arguably? It’s only ‘arguable’ because the media allowed themselves to be duped by the lobbying of fossil fuel and some other corporate interests. These poured millions of dollars into climate change denial, effectively and maybe disastrously delaying action for decades. All to give themselves another generation of profits.

And yet little is heard of this in the election. As George Monbiot points out, politicians of all hues run scared of confronting capitalism’s central conundrum – how to square environmental damage and economic growth. No-one dares to suggest that there are limits to our right to consume. No-one (apart from the Greens) question the ‘presumption that there are no limits’… ‘they build their economic programmes on a fairytale’, refusing to admit we live on a finite planet.

The Tories’ stance is one of the better examples of their habit of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite while hoping no-one will notice. The rest of us tend to call this lying through their teeth. Climate change gets five explicit mentions in their manifesto. No actual policies to prevent it are cited but the UK is apparently a ‘world leader’ in combating it. Meanwhile, the word ‘growth’ appears 30 times, clearly informing us where their priorities lie.

The Tories are in fact little better than Trump, just more disingenuous. Every one of our Tory MPs in Cornwall voted nine times in the last Parliament against measures to prevent climate change and not once in favour. Over the longer run, the worst record is George Eustice’s, the best (though hardly good) Sarah Newton’s.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems at least pledge to oppose fracking and recognise that reliance on shale gas will lock us into fossil fuel dependence well after 2030, by which time we’re supposed to be virtually carbon-free. But both complacently persist in pursing the chimera of environmental protection AND never-ending ‘growth’. Both mention ‘growth’ positively in their manifestos about the same number of times as they mention ‘climate change’ negatively.

Two former Lib Dem MPs standing again have positive records on climate change, although still not 100%. Dan Rogerson voted for measures to prevent climate change 75% of the time and against 25%. Andrew George was 60% for and 40% against. Meanwhile, as on other issues, Stephen Gilbert’s record was closer to the Tories. He voted 40% of the time for measures to prevent climate change and 60% against. What a pity there’s no Green standing in St Austell & Newquay.


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