I was intrigued by the reporting of Baroness Young’s comments that climate change should be viewed as World War III! Based on the content of the Queens Speech, I can only say that if a war is to be fought, it will be a war without mention of people. The three bills trailed earlier in this summer in the pre Queens Speech, i.e. the Climate Change Bill, the Energy Bill and the Local Road Transport Bill, all more or less rely on a combination of legal and technological frameworks, which it is hoped will not only see the 60 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions achieved, but also within a market framework delivering secure and affordable energy supplies.
Mention is made of strengthening the Offshore Gas Supply infrastructure, encouraging investment in Carbon Capture and Storage and even investment to deliver local road pricing schemes, but nothing – absolutely nothing – about how we are actually going to engage communities and citizens in moving towards a low carbon society. It is as if we are wedded to a technologically determinist future where us poor citizens will look on in awe and amazement as a combination of central dictate and technical innovation solve all our problems. I really, really don’t think so. It will take a seismic shift in people’s attitudes towards sustainable living within the energy, water, waste and natural resources agenda and it is desperately dispiriting to see such little effort to engage communities on the ground in this fight.
I remind you what the Prime Minister said at a recent speech to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and I quote, “it is people who are engaged in changing the world that will be the next momentum of change”. If that is in anyway to become reality we have to start trusting empowering and supporting citizens and local communities to deliver on the climate change agenda. As Baroness Young might have concluded in her remarks, World Wars I & II were not “won” by technology or political legislation, but ultimately – like most things in life – by innovative persistent bloody mindedness on the ground! It’s not too late to relearn the lessons of history.