Monday, November 26, 2007

Three thumbs up

[The following should be read with a healthy dose of scepticism]

Because I’m an especially sad individual, I spent Saturday morning in my pyjamas watching live-stream footage of the Australian election results. The overwhelming victory of Kevin Rudd is a cause for celebration, and not only for Australians who’ve put up with the repellent John Howard for eleven years. It looks as though the world’s biggest per-capita polluter is finally going to get real on climate change – with the new PM pledging to sign up to Kyoto and attend next month’s Bali conference in person.

Many heads wiser than mine have declared this the world’s first climate change election. Suffering the worst drought in centuries, Australians have woken up, as the rest of are going to have to, to the grim consequences of our carbon-spewing ways; and the cynical inaction of Howard’s Liberals played a part in their defeat, with 69% of voters considering global warming a major electoral issue (the economy came in at 65%).

Will this change of electoral mood be repeated in the USA next year, or in Canada, whose odious Stephen Harper has returned from the Commonwealth Summit in Uganda with the carcase of a proposed climate emissions agreement slung across his shoulders? Here in the UK, Gordon Brown shared a platform last week with the WWF and gave the first indications of serious engagement with the climate crisis. Other, more immediate, disasters soon overshadowed his pronouncements, and of course we must wait and see what, if any, policies we get out of his government. So far, New Labour has been all talk and no walk on the environment, and perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breaths; yet I’ve decided to take heart from Brown’s rhetorical greening, in the hope that, on renewable energy at least, his reassurances are going to carry weight.

On a much smaller matter, there has also been progress in my (now) hometown of Edinburgh. The excellent Steve Burgess, Green Party Councillor, has sounded out his colleagues on the City Council to find broad support for the idea of ‘differential parking charges’ – that is, tagging the cost of parking charges to vehicle emissions. It looks like we’re going to see a feasibility study commissioned: a necessary first step to getting the New Town Tractor brigade to cough up for the damage and danger they cause the rest of us.

Reasons to be cheerful, then; though all that’s happening – one could argue – is that politicians are approaching the point they should have reached a decade ago.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Be part of the solution. Support WWF today