The People’s March for Climate? Yeah, right
This week, outside my local London Tube station, Farringdon, people dashing home from work have been greeted by leafleters urging them to take part in the People’s March for Climate. ‘To change everything, we need everyone’, the leaflet declares. But what exact kind of change do they have in mind?
A quick look at the back of the leaflet reveals the thinking behind the march. First off, who are The People? Are they the people paying more for their energy thanks to eco-taxes and subsidies? Are they the people heading for Heathrow today, hoping to jet off to some other part of the world, whose journey was delayed by disapproving activists who will do everything they can to make sure the airport can never expand to meet rising demand? It’s doubtful if they are the people around the world desperately trying to work their way out of poverty, relying on the very fossil fuels the marchers disapprove of to power that economic development? Declaring this to be a march by and for The People is pretty much the exact opposite of the truth.
The leaflet then tells us: ‘In days, world leaders are meeting for a global climate summit [in Paris] that is our generation’s best chance to end fossil fuels, and move to a game-changing 100 per cent clean-energy track.’ At the moment, ‘clean’ energy makes up a small fraction of the world’s energy use. Even if the world pursues the aim of lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, low-carbon energy – including nuclear and burning biomass as well as wind, solar, etc – will still only supply a quarter of our energy needs by 2040. The rest of our energy will come from fossil fuels – which are cheaper and much more reliable. Nothing that happens at the climate talks in Paris will change that very much, thankfully.
The leaflet goes on to talk about how the ‘the people of Paris’ have been ‘silenced’, kept from ‘taking to the streets to meet world leaders as they land for the meeting’ because of (fairly understandable) security concerns. But the funny thing about this protest is just how many campaigners will be inside the conference. According to the conference website: ‘The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society.’ This march is not a demand for action emanating from outsiders against the wishes of world leaders. It’s a stage army designed to reinforce the entire purpose of the event, to dress it up as the will of The People.
The climate talks in Paris are, in reality, driven by a coterie of unelected officials, multinational NGOs and politicians desperate to convey some moral leadership on the world stage. The aim is to control The People, to use the environment as an excuse to restrict their ability to live their lives as they choose and realise their ambitions. There’s nothing democratic about that.
Rob Lyons is a spiked columnist.