Rising Tide has never believed that national governments are capable of truly and fairly tackling climate change. This is partly because they refuse to accept the root causes and partly, as people have seen in Germany, even an elected "Green" Party is quickly co-opted into mainstream political approaches. So over the past ten years, rather than lobbying, we have focused our attention on tackling these root causes and building grassroots alternatives to the crisis. Our analysis – that climate change is intimately connected to social justice struggles and indeed, is a product of global inequality – has gained ground during that time.
But... when "Green Dave" Cameron pledged to head the "greenest government ever", we thought maybe we had been wrong all these years (yeah right!).
So what have the Con-Dems been up to so far? Well as we’ve all seen it’s cuts, cuts and yet more ill-thought through cuts. Even previously supportive political commentators are now questioning the validity of those cuts as the Conservatives' ideologically driven political agenda is ever more revealed.
So how did "the environment" fare in the Comprehensive Spending Review?
• The Sustainable Development Commission = abolished.
• The Sustainable Schools Initiative = eradicated.
• Plans to sell off our national forests = ancient woodlands chopped down?
• Increased capacity for the M62 & M25 and the abolition of the Western Extension to the Congestion Charge Zone = creating damaging emissions and poorer air quality.
• Reductions in home insulation grants and bus schemes = savage cuts to hit the UK's poorest people.
• Increased rail fares = encouraging more people to drive and fly.
• Flood defence funding slashed = household insurance premiums will rise.
• £40 million cut to electricity feed-in tariff incentives = thousands of micro-generation energy jobs at risk.
• £1.7 billion committed to unsafe nuclear power sites (40% of DECC's entire spending budget!) = broken promises on subsidies for the false solution of new nuclear.
So, we have been reminded that governments can’t solve the climate crisis. Indeed, years of prevarication followed by this most recent evidence suggests that they can, and are, making it worse.
There is a healthy and growing movement/network of groups opposing the cuts, which we obviously support, but it is presently unclear specifically how the climate movement in the UK will fit into this.
There is the chance that vital action against the cuts will wipe climate activism off the map for a few years. This carries a huge risk: we are at a critical moment, indeed the last moment, to reduce our emissions and become a low-carbon society. So although it is early days for the anti-cuts movement, and the links might not yet have been made, we can’t afford not to keep debate and action on climate change alive.
The gulf between action on cuts and action on climate is not so very wide: the root causes of corporate greed, mindless obsession with economic growth, oppression of the poor by the rich and powerful, are all the same. Civil disobedience, direct action, and grassroots movement building are tactics we both embrace.
Deep down, whatever issue we are fighting for, we know that we need to take back control of our lives and concentrate on the true necessities rather than the fripperies of endless consumption. And we know that now, more than ever, we will have to stand up and be counted, for a future that is in any way fair or sustainable.
See you on the streets!
Rising Tide UK