Monday, November 30, 2009

burying heads in the sandbag

The other week I was at Shared Planet, the annual chinwag for People And Planet people.

It's always a really effervescent occasion, with radical student politics there's very little of the overload factor that tarnishes gatherings of old 'uns. Greying anarchists have already read too much political literature, so somewhere in them is a mechanism trying to discount anything new to think about. With students like People and Planet, their political foundations are still setting, so there's a genuine curiosity, an enthusiasm for really getting to grips with ideas and thinking through them from all possible angles.

Anyway, there was one workshop that's really stuck with me. It was someone from environmental organisation Sandbag talking about how we can use carbon trading to make the necessary carbon cuts we need. The thrust of her argument was, essentially, that because carbon trading exists and is favoured by high-carbon industries, it's too powerful to defeat so we need to try to make them make it a bit more effective. Effective at all would be a start.

I came out with such a strong set of responses that the written splurge has become and article for U-Know. I'm starting to see a pattern; twice before a similar thing has happened. Seeing LibDem environment weasel Chris Huhne speaking led to a piece whose working title was 'Chris Huhne Fuck Off', followed at the beginning of this year by one with the working title 'Hilary Benn Fuck Off'.

This one, though, was never 'Sandbag Fuck Off'. Unlike Huhne and Benn, Sandbag are not devious liars. They are clearly nobly motivated people of integrity. Just like the advocates of carbon offsets and agrofuels were several years ago before we'd all joined the thinking up.

Sandbag's acceptance of emissions trading - a system designed to avoid serious cuts, in large part because it's designed by the industries who don't want to cut emissions - is a commitment to failure and injustice.

The article's just been published on U-Know, and it's called Burying Heads in the Sandbag: Helping the Market Bring Climate Catastrophe.


Anonymous said...

The particularly unfuriating thing I find with this argument is that its premise is pretty much defeat no matter how you dress it up. And pre-assumed defeat isn't sexy. We all know that everyone leftist defeat is preceded with cries of "The people united will never be defeated", probably a couple of minutes before the cops get the batons going. You can't dress it up, it isn't sexy, and no one can cover that up.

On the flip side, though, this is where the opportunity lies. If you can't get a mass of people to join something that essentially has defeat in the premise, something like this is likely to remain in obscurity. Even the name basically speaks of defeatism; in York we get the sandbags out when we know the river defences are doomed.

Unknown said...

Here's a lovely example of how easily cap & trade is exploited, from the US:

The likes of Sandbags seem to assume people like the above example will just play nice if asked politely...