This post by leading British environmentalist Tony Juniper is a reflection on being at the last Earth Summit in 1992 and how far we have come since. It is an extract from his contribution to a collection of writings about the Earth Summit, Rio+20: where it should lead, published by Green Alliance and the RSPB.
Being at the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio is one of those experiences that is hard to forget. It was the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place. Alongside the thousands of campaigners and advocates many global icons were in town too, from the James Bond actor Roger Moore to the Dalai Lama.
And what a place to have such a meeting, with the opulent beachfront apartments laid next to some of Latin America’s largest shanty towns, and all set against the backdrop of dramatic hills clad with some of the last fragments of Brazil’s fast disappearing coastal Atlantic rainforests.
This post is by Green Alliance’s director, Matthew Spencer. A version of this article first appeared in the ENDS report.
When Clement Atlee was asked how Churchill won the war he said ‘talking about it’. He imbued confidence in a nation by laying out a narrative and making it stick through repetition and reinforcement. In contrast the Coalition government is attempting to deliver the biggest transformation of our energy system since the Victorian age by talking about it as little as possible. Read more
This post is by Green Alliance associate Julie Hill.
We held the final meeting of our Designing Out Waste business consortium last week. In the words of one of the companies, with this work we ‘led the debate from designing out waste to the concept of the circular economy’. Now we want to take the circular economy concept, where resources are properly valued and retained usefully in the economy for as long as possible, from an idea to reality.
As our presentation (From Designing Out Waste to the Circular Economy) at the meeting showed, there is already some leadership towards this goal, from UK’s devolved governments, the EU and businesses, but progress is still partial and fragmented. Read more
A version of this article by Green Alliance director Matthew Spencer first appeared on BusinessGreen.
The energy bill maintains the government’s track record of private enthusiasm and public reticence on its low carbon reform agenda. The Coalition appears to have maintained interdepartmental and cross-party support for electricity market reform, but has missed the opportunity to be clear about its low carbon ambitions. As a result it is losing support for reforms which had widespread acceptance two years ago, and the debate has deteriorated into hand to hand fighting between lobbies for renewables, nuclear and unabated gas.
Officials and ministers have spent two years wrestling with the complexity of the new contracting and institutional arrangements, but the draft bill shows that they do not yet have an answer to the most basic question: ‘What is the bill supposed to deliver, and by when?’ Read more
This post is by Green Alliance policy assistant Elise Attal
Energy efficiency is a no brainer. As a recent report from E3G showed, it is the most rational and straightforward thing do from both an economic and environmental perspective. It should be the government’s first priority. Read more
This article, by Green Alliance’s Alastair Harper, about our new report What do people really think about the environment? first appeared on guardian.co.uk on 10 April.
A few days ago, in a stuffy, closed-windowed meeting, I stared at a projection of Powerpoint slides, featuring graphs, rhetorical questions and stock photos. All these slides dealt with public perception of the environment. Things didn’t start well. In answer to a slide asking “What is the most important issue facing Britain today?”, top of the pile was our old friend the economy. Followed by jobs. Down the list we went. Immigration, crime, inflation, petrol prices, equality. Spluttering in at the bottom with three per cent of the vote was pollution/environment. If it had been an election, the environment would be lucky to get its deposit back. Read more
This is a guest post by Carlota Perez, an academic and author of Technological revolutions and financial capital: the dynamics of bubbles and golden ages. This article first appeared in Green Alliance’s magazine Inside Track.
The whole discussion about how to overcome the financial crisis and its consequences on the economy is wrongly focused. Getting public finances in order and the financial world back on its feet will not bring the world economy back to business as usual. Healthy finance with a languid real economy will naturally find new ways of casino behaviour.
What is needed is a set of policies that will decidedly tilt the playing field in such a way that finance would find it more profitable to fund production than to gamble in derivatives or futures, while production, in turn, would find clear pathways to profitable innovation and expansion. We are facing a recurring twice-in-a-century event, equivalent to the 1930s after the crash of 1929, which needs to be understood to find effective solutions. Read more
Director of Green Alliance Matthew Spencer argues that, instead of retreating, the green movement should use this period of austerity as an opportunity to be bold. This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
Rereading the Green Alliance’s 2007 pamphlet on conservative environmental thinking, A greener shade of blue?, it is hard not to feel nostalgic for a dynamic conservative opposition, and a time when environmental debate seemed altogether more optimistic. As David Cameron wrote in the pamphlet: “For the first time in British politics a major political party has given the environment equal billing alongside economic and social matters”. And so he had. He was asking the public to “vote blue, go green”, and pushing for annual targets in a new Climate Change Act, and George Osborne was upbraiding Gordon Brown for failing to deliver a green budget. Read more
This is a guest post by Julie Hill, author of The Secret Life of Stuff, and an associate of Green Alliance.
If, like me, you’ve emerged from the whole Christmas gift-giving experience feeling bruised and wondering what it’s all about, I have a message of hope. One that can be developed throughout the coming year, with the intention of making next Christmas a little psychologically easier on us all. Read more