It was EarthDay on Wednesday – I’m not going to start another of my rants about the pointlessness of awareness hours/days/weeks, but how did it go for you?
One Earth Day headline that caught my eye was the BBC’s report that the Paris climate change talks in December were “THE LAST CHANCE” to save the planet from catastrophe, according to the Earth League. Now, I know why it’s tempting to hype up such a gathering in order to try and put pressure on politicians to make an historic deal, but there’s a huge chance of this tactic back-firing.
There was similar hype around Copenhagen 6 years ago but only incremental progress was made on a deal. Guess what? The world didn’t end there and then. Individual countries and organisations kept beavering away and last year the rise in carbon emissions stalled, while investment in green technology soared.
A comprehensive international deal would undoubtedly help, but I think NGOs and green leaning journos put too much faith on it (and my friend the green journalist Fiona Harvey blamed the Copenhagen failure squarely on NGOs for asking for the impossible). Action is what is required rather than pieces of paper. The paper may lead to action, or it may not, or the action may continue regardless – the two aren’t inextricably linked as we have seen.
My wider point is that predictions of doom are counterproductive. The green movement has been predicting catastrophe for decades – mostly correctly, but sometimes hyperbole gets the better of them. If doom switches people off, then inaccurate predictions of doom destroys any trust people have in what they have been told. And if the Paris talks fail, are we simply to give up and burn that fossil fuel while we still can?
Let’s present the world with a scintillating image of a low carbon future – and deliver on it!