Politicians never learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. They also waste their time and our money preparing statements of policy and law which are no more than pious hopes. The latest is a proposal that local authorities (municipalities) in the United Kingdom should have a statutory duty to combat climate change. This, to my mind, falls within the same class of useless legislation as, for example, the statutory duty that the government has to abolish fuel poverty or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by so much by a certain date. These are laws or proposed laws that have no penalty for the breach of them and serve no purpose except for a lot of political huffing and puffing. They are attempts to make politicians say that they are doing something about a problem, when in fact the passing of a law simply takes the pressure off the politicians to do anything about the problem. The problem ceases to become climate change or fuel poverty or whatever and becomes the argument about the law, the calling in aid of the law and all the political opportunism that can be manufactured out of it.
This kind of making rules which are no more than wishful thinking is not new. In 1928 many countries of the world decided to renounce war as an instrument of national policy. They solemnly signed the Kellogg-Briand Peace Treaty. They in doing so abolished war. They then changed definitions so war, which had been abolished, became “armed conflict” and later, as a series of wars followed almost continuously quietly forget about the rule that they had made up abolishing war.
If you want to abolish war, you have to make rules stopping the production of weapons. Those rules will not abolish war, but would make wars less likely. If you want to abolish climate change you have to make rules stopping the production of greenhouse gases which the planet cannot render benign. At the moment about half of the greenhouse gases produced from all sources each year are rendered benign by the planet and are important to preserve life. The other half stay in the atmosphere and accumulate. So perhgaps when considering avoiding rapid climate change we should concentrate on the many small measures that we can take, rather than on grandiose schemes and impressive targets which will not come to fruition or be achieved.
Filed under: carbon emissions, climate change, global warming, law Tagged: | accumulation of greenhouse gases, armed conflict, environment, fuel poverty, government, kellogg-Briand Pact, politics, war