UK’s conservative Foreign Secretary: “You cannot have food, water, or energy security without climate security.”

Hague: “We must be undaunted by the scale of the challenge.”

The time to act is now….

We need to shift investment urgently from high carbon business as usual to the low carbon economy – this means building an essentially decarbonised global economy by mid century.

The EU must accelerate its own progress and demonstrate that a low carbon growth path makes us more competitive. I am convinced that this is in the long-term interests of Europe’s economy.

The anti-science, pro-pollution extremism of leading American conservative politicians is in sharp contrast to the science-based, low-carbon approach of their British counterparts (see British PM Gordon Brown attacks “anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics” while UK Conservatives reaffirm climate science).

Nowhere is that clearer than in a must-read speech Monday from Foreign Secretary William Hague to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  Hague was actually Conservative Party leader for a while and is a pretty right-wing guy by British standards, as his Wikipedia entry makes clear.

Hague’s views aren’t dissimilar to some old-school US conservatives, such as the man who held his position under Reagan (see George Shultz on Prop 23: “Those who wish to repeal our state’s clean energy laws through postponement to some fictitious future are running up the white flag of surrender to a polluted environment” and losing on Prop 23 “would be a catastrophe”).

It is all but inconceivable that any modern US conservative seeking national office would deliver a speech that sounded anything like this.  Heck, I’d do “a backward 2 and ½ somersaults with 2 and ½ twists in the piked position” if President Obama gave this same speech from the Oval Office during prime time.  It deserves to be widely read:

Today I want to talk about why I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change. Climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century’s biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. A world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the UN will not be met. It is a world in which competition and conflict will win over collaboration.

We are at a crucial point in the global debate on climate change. Many are questioning, in the wake of Copenhagen, whether we should continue to seek a response to climate change through the UN and whether we can ever hope to deal with this enormous challenge.

I will first argue that an effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity. Second, our response should be to strive for a binding global deal, whatever the setbacks. And third, I will set out why effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response.

Ban Ki-moon is right to have made climate change his top priority. Two weeks ago I talked of Britain’s values in a networked world. I said then that a successful response to climate change must be a central objective of British foreign policy. I said this not only because I believe action against climate change is in line with a values-based foreign policy, but because it underpins our prosperity and security.

You cannot have food, water, or energy security without climate security. They are interconnected and inseparable. They form four resource pillars on which global security, prosperity and equity stand. Each depends on the others. Plentiful, affordable food requires reliable and affordable access to water and energy. Increasing dependence on coal, oil, and gas threatens climate security, increasing the severity of floods and droughts, damaging food production, exacerbating the loss of biodiversity and, in countries that rely on hydropower, undermining energy security through the impact on water availability. As the world becomes more networked, the impacts of climate change in one country or region will affect the prosperity and security of others around the world.

No-one can have failed to be appalled by the devastating floods in Pakistan. They overwhelmed the capacity of government to respond, and opened political space for extremists. While Pakistan has borne the brunt of the human impact, China too has been hit on a vast scale by a seemingly endless sequence of droughts, floods and deadly mudslides. The Russian drought last month damaged the wheat harvest, leading to an export ban. World prices surged, hitting the poorest hardest and sparking riots over bread prices in Mozambique.

While no one weather event can ever be linked with certainty to climate change, the broad patterns of abnormality seen this year are consistent with climate change models. They provide a vivid illustration of the events we will be encountering increasingly in the future.

The clock is ticking. The time to act is now.

We must all take responsibility for this threat. We must take robust action. But we must also be clear-headed about the difficulties of reaching agreement and not lose heart when the going gets tough.

The post-war leaders set up the United Nations in the aftermath of conflagration. They saw the pressing need for global solutions to global problems; cooperation not conflict, through frameworks and institutions embedded in the rule of law; and an international system that is fair and offers everyone a realistic prospect of security and prosperity.

Failure to respond to climate change is inimical to all these values, undermining trust between nations, intensifying competition for resources, and shrinking the political space available for cooperation. It is an affront to fairness, since it puts the greatest burden on those who have done least to cause the problem and are least able to deal with its consequences. It is incompatible with the values and aspirations that the UN embodies. It is incompatible with the values and aspirations of British foreign policy.

For more than twenty years we have been striving to build an effective international response to climate change. But we have lacked the collective ambition required.

We need to shift investment urgently from high carbon business as usual to the low carbon economy – this means building an essentially decarbonised global economy by mid century. At the same time we must ensure development is climate resilient: otherwise the changes in climate that are already unavoidable will block the path for hundreds of millions of people from poverty to prosperity. These changes also threaten to sweep away the investments in development we have made — and just as the bridges and schools in Pakistan were swept away.

To drive that shift in investment from high to low carbon we need a global climate change deal under the UN.

Some have argued that we should abandon hope of doing so. They say Copenhagen proved it is all too difficult. We should focus instead on less inclusive and less demanding responses, such as coalitions of the willing. This would be a strategic error. It mistakes the nature of the task, which is to expand the realm of the possible, not to lower our ambition by accepting its current limits.

We must recognise this at Cancun. One thing Copenhagen did give us was a set of political commitments, captured in the Copenhagen Accord, on which we can build. More than 120 countries have now associated themselves with that Accord. That represents a broad and growing consensus. We now need to ensure that we live up to the commitments we made to each other in the Accord and reach out even more widely.

Copenhagen was a strategic setback. But it was not by any means the end of the road. We need to be clear on why Copenhagen failed to live up to high expectations and why it did not deliver a legally binding deal.

Many say that Copenhagen failed because of process. The diplomats and the politicians had created a negotiation that was too difficult and too complex. This misses the point. International treaties are an outcome – not an input – of political bargains. If you have made the political commitment to deliver, you can make the process work to deliver.

The real reason Copenhagen did not deliver on high expectations was a lack of political will. Many in developing countries saw a gap between the words and the deeds of the industrialised economies. They questioned whether we really believed our own rhetoric.

To answer those questions we need to start at home.

That is why the coalition to which I belong has committed itself to being the greenest government ever in the UK; and why with others in Europe we are calling on the EU to commit to a 30% cut in emissions by 2020 without waiting for the rest of the world to act. The UK is already the world leader in offshore wind with more projects installed, in planning and in construction than any other country in the world. We are undertaking the most radical transformation of our electricity sector ever. We aim to provide over 30% of our domestic electricity from renewables by 2020. We have committed to build no new coal-fired power stations without carbon capture and storage technology – CCS – and we have announced our intention to continue with four CCS demonstration projects.

And because it is imperative that foreign and domestic policies are mutually reinforcing we must ensure that our approach is coherent. That is why we established the UK’s National Security Council to ensure this happens across the full range of issues, including climate change. And that is why I work hand in glove with Chris Huhne, the British Energy and Climate Change Secretary, and Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, to ensure that our domestic action reflects our level of international ambition.

But we will not succeed if we act alone. We must aim for a framework that is global and binding. It needs to be global because climate change affects everyone. Only a response that allows everyone a voice will generate a sense of common purpose and legitimacy. Only a response that is binding will convince investors that we intend to keep the promises we make to each other. Businesses need clear political signals. Let us show them an unequivocal green light….

There is no global consensus on what climate change puts at risk, geopolitically and for the global economy, and thus on the scale and urgency of the response we need. We must build a global consensus if we are to guarantee our citizens security and prosperity. That is a job for foreign policy. The fundamental purpose of foreign policy is to shift the political debate, to create the political space for leaders and negotiators to reach agreement. We did not get that right before Copenhagen. We must get it right now.

So we urgently need to mobilise Foreign Ministers and the diplomats they lead, as well as institutions such as the Council on Foreign Relations, to put climate change at the heart of foreign policy.

When I became Foreign Secretary in May, I said the core goals of our foreign policy were to guarantee Britain’s security and prosperity. Robust global action on climate change is essential to that agenda. That is why the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, under my leadership, is a vocal advocate for climate diplomacy. All British Ambassadors carry the argument for a global low carbon transition in their breast pocket or their handbag. Climate change is part of their daily vocabulary, alongside the traditional themes of foreign policy. They are supported by our unique network of climate attach©s throughout the world.

The core assets of foreign policy are its networks and its convening power. Foreign policy can build political impulses to overcome barriers between sectors and cultures. In a networked world, diplomacy builds partnerships beyond government. Nowhere are those partnerships more vital than on climate.

We must mobilise all our networks – not just across government but between governments, using organisations such as the Commonwealth. And we must also reach out beyond, to NGOs, faith groups and business. Of all these, perhaps business engagement is key to making a difference. It is business that will lead the low-carbon transition. It is business which best understands the incentives needed to help us all prosper.

We must also harness scientific expertise in cutting edge low carbon technologies. The scientific community will develop the goods which will power the low carbon economy and drive global ambition on climate change. That is why the British Government has a science and innovation network, which fosters collaborative research in the UK and other countries.

What can the UK and the European Union do to make that fundamental shift and shape a global consensus on climate change? The most serious problem at Copenhagen, and the strongest brake on political will was and is a lack of confidence in the low carbon economy. Too few people in too few countries are yet convinced that a rapid move to low carbon is compatible with economic recovery and growth. They see the short term economic and domestic stability risks before the opportunities and the longer term risks of inaction.

There should only be one European response to the confidence gap. The EU must accelerate its own progress and demonstrate that a low carbon growth path makes us more competitive. I am convinced that this is in the long-term interests of Europe’s economy. We have learned painful lessons from the oil price shock. We must modernise our infrastructure. The opportunities are out there. The global industry in low carbon and environmental goods and services is already estimated to be worth up to 3.2 trillion pounds a year. Britain’s own share of this is valued at up to 112 billion pounds. Nearly a million British people are employed in the sector. That is why we are creating a Green Investment Bank to ensure that we can properly support and develop low carbon industry.

… We will be at the forefront in pushing for low carbon modernisation of Europe’s infrastructure and energy policy to meet tomorrow’s needs….  A budget for prosperity and security is one which supports the transition to a low carbon economy.

Action in Europe alone will not be enough. We need both the developed and developing world to take action. This week Guido Westerwelle and I have tasked our teams to come together to shape a coordinated diplomacy-led effort on climate change, combining the strengths of our respective foreign services. I have just put the case for bringing a new urgency for low carbon transition within the EU. Together we should carry that urgency in external dialogues whether they are with the US, China or India.

The transition to low carbon will happen faster and maximise the benefits for all if the US – historically the world’s largest emitter – is at the leading edge. I recognise the political challenges that the US administration faces and welcome President Obama’s commitment to combat climate change. As he said in his State of the Union speech, “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy”. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming mid-term elections in the US, there is scope for political unity around an economic agenda that targets new energy opportunities and new jobs. American business understands this new market and wants to lead it. But to make these new clean energy investments at the required pace and at sufficient scale they need the right incentives.

On climate, as in so many areas, the world looks to the US for leadership because it has the economic clout and diplomatic leverage to shift the global debate. I look forward to working with the US administration and the Council on Foreign Relations to raise global ambitions and put us back on the path to sustainable growth.

A key challenge for Europe is to build an economic partnership with China that reinforces the steps China is taking towards a low carbon economy. These steps include its recent announcement of the five provinces and eight cities that have been designated as China’s Low Carbon Pilots. Together these pilots cover 350 million people – so an ambitious approach to these schemes, tenaciously implemented, could provide a critical boost to global confidence in the concept of low carbon development and help put China on the path to sustainable prosperity. It could also produce huge two-way investment and partnership opportunities. Europe should place itself at the heart of these, working with China to maximise the ambition and the opportunities and to build the shared technology standards that will shape the global low-carbon market. In China’s case, low-carbon opportunity is matched by urgent low-carbon need. The pace of growth in China means average Chinese per capita emissions could soon eclipse those of the EU. So while China has taken some very welcome steps, without a commitment from China to further decisive action, the efforts of others will be in vain.

The emerging economies face a dilemma. Often they are the most vulnerable to the direct effects of climate change. But they are concerned that action against climate change will adversely affect their development. The challenge to all countries is to have a high growth low carbon economy. Some, like Brazil, which derives nearly half its energy from clean and renewable sources, are rising to that challenge. India is another, embodying in microcosm the challenge that climate change poses to us all. Threatened by food, water and energy insecurity, India has responded with ambitious plans to generate 20 Gigawatts of solar power by 2022. South Africa, a coal dependent economy the success of which is so important to growth and prosperity within the continent, has made a significant offer to deviate their emissions from the business as usual development pathway.

The opportunity is for the emerging economies is to make a direct leap to low carbon, avoiding the “high carbon lock-in” we see in the developed world: a new sustainable pathway to prosperity and security. A global low-carbon economy is not an idealist’s pipe-dream but a 21st century realist’s imperative. Countries that adapt quickly to a carbon constrained world will be better able to deliver lasting prosperity for their citizens. As a P5 member, I am determined that the UK will play its full part in that, not least by supporting climate finance for the poorest.

Collectively we share a responsibility to those most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Bangladesh, with its densely populated coastal region, is particularly susceptible to rising sea levels. Glacial melt, sea level rises and El Ni±o-type events threaten the lives of millions across South America. And the very existence of many small islands states is under threat. We have a shared vision to meet the millennium development goals. But in a world without action on climate change, that vision will remain a dream. The effort of the last ten years will be wasted.

Climate change is one of the gravest threats to our security and prosperity. Unless we take robust and timely action to deal with it, no country will be immune to its effects. However difficult it might seem now, a global deal under the UN is the only response to this threat which will create the necessary confidence to drive a low carbon transition. We must be undaunted by the scale of the challenge. We must continue to strive for agreement. We must not accept that because there is no consensus on a way forward now that there will never be one. And to change the debate, we must imaginatively deploy all of the foreign policy assets in our armoury until we have shaped that global consensus.

A successful response to climate change will not only stabilise the climate but open the way to a future in which we can meet our needs through cooperation, in accordance with the ideals of the UN. Failure will enhance competitive tendencies and make the world more dangerous. This is not a hard choice. We have to get this right. If we do, we can still shape our world. If we do not, our world will determine our destiny.

There is nothing genuinely “conservative” about refusing to conserve resources, refusing to conserve a livable climate.

28 Responses to UK’s conservative Foreign Secretary: “You cannot have food, water, or energy security without climate security.”

  1. Manda Scott says:

    It’s good to hear him say this – the real test is in whether he can pull the rest of his largely denialist party with him – and actually *do* something…

  2. Peter M says:

    In the USA

    It can be said you cannot have food, water or energy security without burning coal & drilling for more oil.

  3. James says:

    It’s worth noting that the new head of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Milliband, was the secretary of state for climate change and energy before the election. He clearly understands the need for drastic cuts in CO2 emissions and helped pass the Climate Change Act which legislated for emission cuts of 80% by 2050.

    Whether the UK will actually accomplish this is, of course, undetermined. First, sensible Conservatives like Hague (and coalition Lib Dems) must overcome opposition from contrarian parts of the right wing political and media set. Secondly they must make the shift from rhetoric to action.

    Finally, I sincerely hope that William Hague has been giving this message to his American right wing friends. He has lots of connections in Washington (due to his neo-conservative view on Iraq etc), so should have some credibility with them. Can this influence overcome the finance of Big Oil and the siren calls of the Tea party?

  4. Doug Bostrom says:

    Peter M says: September 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Forever? For how long? How long should we procrastinate before using our paltry endowment of fossil fuels to build something reliable, rather than burning them willy-nilly without regard for the future?

    You don’t even have to give a rat’s ass about climate change to understand that fossil fuels are not magically self-renewing, they’re a lever growing shorter by the day, lifting a bigger weight by the day.

  5. Heraclitus says:

    Manda Scott, I don’t think it’s fair to say the Conservatives are largely denialist, at least not the parliamentary party. Much of the grass-roots support may be, but largely through ignorance of the science fueled by poor quality reporting in the mass media. The MPs themselves are generally well informed but unfortunately they’re also willing to compromise principle for power – that’s the inevitable product of our political system.

  6. Hmm contrast that speech with: Coal production has grown faster than any other fuel source during the past 10 years, he said. “It is the only sustainable fuel to meet needs of emerging economies.”

    Those are words of Gregory Boyce, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer in the United States at the World Energy Congress in Montreal 2 weeks ago.

    At the same meeting another energy CEO declared: “The environmental impact of oil sands production is exaggerated.”

  7. J Bowers says:

    Not convinced. So far the Tories have been paying lip service only, and the list of backpedalling and broken election promises just grows. I don’t doubt Hague’s sincerity, but he’s in with a bunch of grubby bedfellows.

  8. Jarret Adams says:

    It was an interesting speech, but why did eliminate the portion where Mr. Hague said he supported building a fleet of new nuclear power plants to meet the UK’s energy and climate goals. “We have decided in Britain to build a new generation of nuclear power stations,” Hague told the CFR.
    Nuclear energy is a critical component to helping avert climate change and is by far the largest source of CO2-free electricity in America.

  9. dorveK says:

    “We must be undaunted by the scale of the challenge.” I hope the BBC can hear that, to begin with a rather more immediate challenge…

  10. Leif says:

    “We must be undaunted by the scale of the challenge.” Precisely. Humanity has gotten ourselves into this predicament without even trying. Most folks without even realizing our peril. Will the future look different? Gosh, I hope so. Can a different future be rewarding? Did the horse and buggy folks look forward to the future of the automobile?

    Embrace the AWAKENING ECONOMY.

    Sustainability is a HUMAN RIGHT!

  11. Rick Covert says:


    Will you post Governor Arnold Schwartzegger’s speech where he directly attacked Koch Industries, Tesoro and Valero energy for their attack on AB 32?

  12. Hot Tropics says:

    Situational Greening

    In Situational Leadership it is sometimes stated the times produce the right person/s, particularly in times of crisis.

    It could be said that this is happening now in the UK with leaders like Foreign Secretary William Hague (yes, a great read) and Ed Milliband, the newly elected Labour Leader.

    Ed Milliband, formerly as Secretary of State for climate change, has a significant track record, including the promotion of the Climate Change Act which was reported as the first national legislation in the world to cut carbon emissions. Labour’s current climate change policies are hot on the heels of conservatives, which will be very healthy for the planet, and help propel the UK as a world leader on alternative energy and green jobs.

    In Australia, situational leaders are emerging, which can be seen in the alliance of the Labour Party , the Greens and Independents. The newly formed Climate Change Committee, which is going to look at the best way of putting a price on carbon, includes some quite bright campaign veterans.

    The Australian Labour Party, formerly under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who campaigned relentlessly in Copenhagen, and now Julia Gillard, have been trying for 3 years to get a carbon reduction bill passed through parliament against a blockade by the Liberals, who have been at times, bunched with the flat-earth climate change deniers.

    Maybe the climate change situation or crisis will see some more unselfish global knights emerge.

  13. Robert says:

    To put things in context – a few facts. In 2009 the UK’s coal, oil and gas consumption fell by 15.9%, 4.3% and 7.5% respectively. Fantastic, except that this was mainly due to the dire state of our economy and only a tiny bit due to insulating homes, taxing Range Rovers and getting rid of 100W bulbs.

    In the same year China’s coal, oil and gas consumption rose by 9.6%, 6.7% and 9.4%. This was entirely in line with the growth in their economy of 9%. China’s coal consumption rose from 1406 to 1537 mtoe while the UK’s fell from 35.5 to 29.7. In other words, the GROWTH in China’s coal consumption in just 3 months was equal to the UK’s entire coal consumption for the whole year.

    I support the Climate Change Act. I have drastically reduced the gas and electricity consumption in our home. I am quite realistic about the fact that neither will make an ounce of difference to planet’s destiny. Until the big emitters take drastic action the rest of us might as well not bother – all we are doing is making it that bit easier for them to ignore the problem.

  14. Sasparilla says:

    A great speech, I wish the political leadership in the US (on both sides of the aisle) actually measured up to what he talks about needing from us.

  15. Dan Olner says:

    Haven’t seen this anywhere in the UK press, cheers for picking it up.

  16. DRT says:

    re: Heck, I’d do “a backward 2 and ½ somersaults with 2 and ½ twists in the piked position”…..
    Rolling Stone Obama interview:

    Do you see a point at which you’re going to throw the whole weight of the presidency behind this, like you did on health care or financial reform?
    Yes. Not only can I foresee it, but I am committed to making sure that we get an energy policy that makes sense for the country and that helps us grow at the same time as it deals with climate change in a serious way. I am just as committed to getting immigration reform done.

  17. Mark says:

    As a Brit I am glad that denial of science hasn’t managed to grip our politicians in the way it has some of the media and population. We need to overcome nations in the EU that are still caught in denial, like Italy, Poland and the Czechs so that EU targets and action can be intensified. And to try and tackle the anomalies such as international trade and aviation.

  18. Mark says:

    The UK Royal society, our science academy, has a new guide to the science out now here

  19. Such a level of naivete is pretty incredible.

    That grown-ups should be able to switch off their most basic capacity of critical reflection and read such a text without laughing…

    This guy, and the government he’s a part of, stands up for MORE climate chaos. MORE planes, MORE cars, MORE industry, MORE energy, MORE consumption, etc. And you’re able to applaud this because he powders his discourse with a few adjectives like “sustainable”, “low-carbon”, etc. This is a shame.

    Anybody who may be willing to admit that MORE of these things is the real source of the destruction of the climate, and that no amount of nice adjectives can change the physical reality?

    To take one example, there’s 20 cars for 1000 inhabitants in China, around 500 cars for 1000 inhabitants in Western European countries. Does anyone need their intelligence insulted by having the math done for them that shows that any serious policy is not about new, nice adjectives, but about saying, among other things, that cars must be banned?

    Future generations will balk at the fact that even people who knew about the nihilist path we were on proved unable to put in question the “modern” gods, aka cars, planes, more industry, etc. The gregarious instinct seems, so far, to win handily over the fate of a planet.

  20. John Mason says:

    Not sure where to put this. Just had an email from the BBC telling me I’ve had a comment removed from the discussion after Richard Black’s piece. Can anyone work out why they would remove the following (in response to someone saying CO2 was a trace gas and was therefore inconsequential)?

    “Some things are very potent in trace amounts. I’d be glad it is carbon dioxide at 390ppm and rising, and not hydrogen sulphide!!

    I could go on to point out that in mining, gold is very lucrative if present at concentrations of 10ppm in an orebody. Numbers ain’t everything on their own ;)”


    Cheers – John

  21. Manda Scott says:

    @John – seems particularly weird – you could ask them?

    @P-E Neurohr – banning cars may be a theoretical solution, but the government that did so would find itself consigned to the dump bin of history, never to be elected again. I don’t like this, but it’s true – in which case, there’s room for believing that they are doing their best – tho’ the Tory rank and file – and a fair number of the current intake of new MPs is still actively denialist (The old ones weren’t – the new ones have been culled from the ranks of the lobbies and are there to push their denialist case) My own MP a senior whip, said at a public meeting that he ‘didn’t know if global warming was caused by humanity’s actions’. Nuff said.

  22. Lewis C says:

    Pierre at 19 –

    “any serious policy is not about new, nice adjectives, but about saying, among other things, that cars must be banned.”

    While you may enjoy stating your fundamentalist position as a means to denigrate those working for practical change, what you actually achieve is gifting the deniers yet another example of easily ridiculed dictatorial idealism.

    The ‘Great Car Economy’ (so named by the myopic Thatcher) ain’t going to be banned; it will be capped from the growth it needs for survival and then diminished
    – first by declining globally traded oil supplies – not at 4% /yr as the US DOE forecasts after 2012, but at 4% plus x% due to the rising resource nationalism as producers meet rising home demand at the expense of exports.
    – Second it will be capped by governments rationing fuel to maintain supplies for essential services – medical transport, food production and distribution, law enforcement, etc.
    – Third it will be capped by the global agreement of declining national carbon emission rights, under which unessential transport-energy usage would be at the expense of vital non-transport fossil energy usage while alternative energies are being developed and deployed in a crash program of de-carbonization.

    The re-election of the Canadian neo-con Harper illustrates the outcome of the opposition’s attempt to push a climate strategy (in that case a carbon tax) that the electorate has yet to see the need for. The UK coalition government will not repeat that incompetence. It will press for the advance of the EU 2020 goal to 30% off 1990, meaning that Britain will have to achieve a 42% cut by that date, and it will strive to maintain the electorate’s support of that goal.

    Hague is talking practical politics to the CFR, and slamming the US brinkmanship of inaction in the most polite of coded diplomatic language – while also warning bluntly of Europe’s growing interdependence with Asia. If you just can’t see it, maybe you need to review your own counter-productive fundamentalism ?



  23. @ Manda Scott

    What’s theoretical about respecting the limits of the climate system? You don’t answer the question. Sure, right now, any politician proposing this would be laughed at, but that’s not the question.

    The question is:

    1° Knowing there’s 20 cars for 1000 inhabitants in China, while there’s around 500 cars for 1000 inhabitants in Western Europe ;

    2° Knowing that with that kind of lifestyle (plus other, associated ones), the middle classes of the rich countries have already dealt massive blows against the climate (assuming we haven’t passed the tipping points yet) ;

    3° Obviously, you cannot have the Chinese use cars the way we do without destroying the earth, so you either tell them a) you’re an inferior race which doesn’t need these machines (pretty disgusting), or b) you tell them, we must and will stop using them, and you must do likewise.

    Whatever politicians -and the electorate- might say, the physical world will win in the end, it’d be great if it doesn’t mean ruining the living world.

  24. @ Lewis C

    Maybe one day you’ll understand that the epithet “fundamentalist” is a good definition of people whose ideology is calcified by habits.

    To the point that the habit of using personal machines called “cars” cannot be questioned… even when we are faced with the exctinction of life forms, including quite a few millions of human beings, whose agriculture will be destroyed.

  25. James Newberry says:

    Thank you British (Petroleum) Prime Minister for your good rhetoric. We certainly appreciate what your illustrious British based global corporation has done for the magnificent Gulf of Mexico (e.g. become a toxic dead zone).

    We will hear more from the (religious) minister on the prospects of improved moral behavior by going . . . atomic: radioactive processing from uranium mining for all British (experimental) subjects. (This is because the banker’s wealth that rules plutocracy is encouraged by financialization of minerals and centralization of political and physical power, just like that of petroleum).

    Where is my nuclear bail-out bucket? Sounds like a centrally planned economy to me. Pay no attention to the heat and radioactivity pouring into the ocean. Radioactivity is the new clean.

    A great speech of how to appear to convey moral behavior.

  26. James Newberry says:

    My apologies: Scratch “Prime Minister” and add “Foreign Secretary” etc.

  27. Lewis C says:

    25- James
    the blinders of your cynical nationalism seem to leave you unaware of the merits and the importance of this speech. FYI Hague is not prime minister but foreign secretary – la Clinton is his counterpart in the US.

    Regarding BP and the Gulf disaster, it has to be said that between them BP an its partner corporations achieved damage that US agribusiness and oil corporations by themselves would probably have taken decades to achieve. While BP is British based, it is not run by government; far from it – it urgently needs to be brought to heel to start behaving more responsibly in its conduct around the world – like by demerging into a swarm of non-fossil energy companies during this decade. But then maybe you’d oppose that government intervention as being what you deride as “a centrally planned economy”?

    You’re not alone in missing the nuance of the coalition government’s attitude to nuclear replacements. The clout of the nuclear lobby is as great in Europe as it is in the US, but here it is quietly active in staunchly supporting a carbon price, and has been since the mid-’90s. With rampant construction-cost inflation, and the denial of any government subsidy being a founding article of the coalition (enforced by the Liberal Chris Huhne as Climate & Energy Secretary) the nuclear lobby sees clearly that its survival depends on competing with coal by means of a serious price on carbon emissions.

    This means that the nuclear lobby is a very potent ally in getting carbon pricing agreed in general, and, in particular, potentially within the US. Hence Hague put in some warm remarks of encouragement to that highly troubled industry. –

    Personally I greatly doubt whether more than a few old stations will be replaced, not merely because of the public opposition to the raft of demerits, nor the worsening construction credit issues, but because of the high probability that nuclear will not be competitive with solar baseload, geothermal, offshore wind, city-scale wave, etc, as these emerging technologies mature.

    Such is the urgency of getting a global carbon price agreed, that it is surely a moot point whether a few old nuclear stations getting replaced (IF they can find the investors) is a rational price to pay.

    What Hague did at the CFR meeting was unprecedented – in a reported speech he told the core of the US establishment that its conduct in maintaining the reckless inherited policy of brinkmanship was both unacceptable and self-harming, and warned quite bluntly that in the absence of the policy’s review, Europe would move further into economic co-operation with Asia, which will be greatly to the detriment of US hegemony.

    Maybe all this just passes you by – after all, Hague’s speech was coded and this is written by a Briton ? If so, just remember the figure 42%. That’s what the British government is taking on as our GHG cut off 1990 by 2020 as Chris Huhne leads the push to get the EU target raised unilaterally from 20% to 30%.



  28. James Newberry says:

    Thank you Lewis for your comments.

    While I apologize for the error of title and harsh tone of my outburst, we taxpayers and clean energy advocates are getting a bit worried from reports on climate and environmental contamination, as well as continuing economic recession in the US. While your analysis indicates nuanced observations that may hold true, we none the less drift under some type of state sanctioned corporatism toward cryosphere meltdown, even as hundreds of billions of dollars per year are poured into fossil extraction and combustion development worldwide.

    Perhaps the secretary could have simply said England will cease investments in fossils and fission and promote clean energy instead. Nuances of state diplomacy are getting late considering the deadly prospects of climate and biosphere collapse (including the contribution from nuclear).