Naturally, the reported leaking of emails which suggested that climate change statistics had been manipulated (something which will now apparently receive an independent review) adds more fuel to the fire. It seems particularly bad timing that this comes out now, which may well suggest that some organisations opposed to stricter controls on emissions, or perhaps those organisations that make their money from fossil fuels, are seeking to discredit next week's discussions. If that is the case, then their PR people deserve a bonus for the amount of coverage this issue is getting!
Anyway, my good friend Iain Keith arrived there last night as a Global Campaigner for the Avaaz organisation. Although Iain could explain better than myself, Avaaz seems to utilise the internet to connect people on political issues, such as human rights or the environment. It then uses its members to help build campaigns which are targeted at political leaders around the world.
Iain and I chatted briefly on some of the issues earlier and came to agreement, which I will try and get down in words...
Climate change activists should stop focusing on convincing people that climate change is 'real' and that humans play a role in this change. That is not to say that these messages aren't important, rather perhaps it is now time for the scientific community to discuss and validate these 'claims'. Instead, the focus should be put on the economic benefits that a shift to researching and developing renewable fuels and general 'green' living would enable.
We are in (or coming out of, depending on your views) a recession that will continue to impact the 'average man on the street' long into next year. There are millions of people without jobs in the UK alone and things are likely to get harder for our graduates (all those that couldn't get jobs after graduating in the summer will be joined by thousands more in 7-8 months).
Now, I don't claim to be an economist and I am sure many of my friends could join the dots a bit better than me but, if you can harness an argument that says to world leaders:
"Guys, there is now a latent industry that has sprung up around climate change. You see those guys outside with petitions?
They all have jobs because of this issue.
Have you heard of a Toyota Prius?
Now that clearly wasn't made because it is fast or sexy. People spend thousands on that junk because they care about the environment. More than that... they care what people think and that they should care about the environment!
Have you seen all those wind farms popping up everywhere?
I'm guessing someone had to design those, build them, put them up and somehow capture the power and sell it. And it hasn't exactly had a negative affect on the oil price has it?!
Have you ever read a CSR report?
Companies are bending over backwards to show everyone how environmentally responsible they are. There are even organisations that consult on how you should best do that and other organisations trying to develop generic assessment and reporting mechanisms. That means there are jobs there that simply didn't exist a few years back.
Do you get it?
Climate change is real! Whatever the science says, there is an industry there to support the widely held belief that this stuff matters. We can't take away from the fact that people will keep investing in this stuff at a personal or corporate level so, instead, let's jump on the bandwagon.
Let's stop arguing about bottom line emission targets in isolation and ascertain what these targets might mean for positive growth and employment if managed effectively."
I'm guessing I wouldn't be described as cynical if I was to say that, if there's money to be made, people will get behind a shift to developing new technologies, alternative fuels, and sustainable living. It's just about finding the argument that spells out to key decision makers how they can capitalise on this stuff. Then it won't just be publicly listed companies that are expected to put out CSR reports but perhaps countries too.