The current economic woes gripping the world have led to unprecedented actions from governments as they attempt to keep their economies afloat. The British government has pumped something like 40 billion pounds directly into the banking system, underwritten hundreds of billions in credit guarantees and provided huge levels of tax relief in an effort to get the economy moving again. Although it is understandable that these matters occupy the government’s focus at present, is it right that environmental issues be sidelined until economic fortunes turn around?
Clearly, the structural reforms that are needed to turn western economies towards a low-carbon future cannot be done on the cheap. Money is what will make this happen and it is unrealistic to think otherwise. Only a healthy economy can generate the required capital while also maintaining the way of life people are unwilling to change. Should we wait until we are in a better financial position before we do anything substantial about it?
There are many reasons why today represents the best opportunity to seize the moment. Firstly, and perhaps we should step back for a moment from our wholly human difficulties, the earth won’t wait. Climate Change is happening, recession or not. If economists are right, we will see economic growth return to trend in 2010 at the earliest. If we sit and do nothing, another year or longer will pass with no progress made towards substantive investments in renewable energy sources.
This article was first published in London Progressive Journal on 5th December 2008