What the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report confirmed this month is that the stable climate many of us grew up with is gone and has been replaced by a fundamentally unstable one. Sea levels will almost certainly rise and storms will get more intense. Amid a drumbeat of depressing news and decades of inaction, there’s a sort of folk wisdom emerging that liberal democracy might just be too slow to tackle a problem as urgent and massive as the climate crisis. It’s an enticing vision: that governments can forgo the messy, deliberative work of politics in favour of a benign dictatorship of green technocrats who will get emissions down by brute force. With a punishingly tiny budget of just 400 gigatonnes of CO2 left to make a decent shot of staying below 1.5C of warming, is it time to give something less democratic a try? There is simply no class of enlightened technocrats in powerful governments waiting in the wings to save the day. No authoritarians are gunning to decarbonise at the breakneck speed required to avert catastrophe. And no billionaire saviour in the form of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos will rescue our dying planet – they’re both more interested in getting off it than improving it. The answer, stubbornly, is more democracy – both within and beyond our borders. The best hope in the short term is for a popular front to browbeat the middling centrists who claim to “believe science” into actually acting on it, and beating back the illiberal right accordingly.
Guardian 25th Aug 2021 read more »