A big thank you to @GeorgeMonbiot for highlighting my response to him and I will try to explain what I meant in a tweet thread here. I have been inspired by @GretaThunberg to clarify my ideas on this. https://twitter.com/GeorgeMonbiot/status/1285830765717200901
1) For most of my life I've been trying to understand how we got to where we are i.e. heading towards a sustainability crunch point, an ecological crisis and why we've failed to change direction. Like Greta I had a sudden flash of insight when I was 10, but this was 50 years ago.
2) We've been led to believe this globally suicidal economic model, and the refusal to deviate from it is because it's what people demand and our leaders our powerless because people refuse to change direction.
3) I came to the conclusion a very long time ago that this whole narrative about why things are as they are and why there's been a failure to heed the climate and ecological crisis is false, a gigantic lie i.e. a huge misdirection.
4) After the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the biggest international conference of its type ever political leaders around the world pledged to fix the sustainability (ecological) crisis, to create a sustainable society and to address the causes of climate change.
5) These commitments were crystal clear. All the political leaders of the developed world and most other countries pledged to create a sustainable society/economy and to address the climate crisis through the COP talks.
6) This meant for the best part of 2 decades in democracies people voted for political leaders who at least publicly pledged to address the climate and ecological crisis. Climate change denial is a recent phenomenon. For most of this time climate change denial wasn't a thing.
7) The complete failure to address the causes of climate change or to create a sustainable economy, was not because people protested against the creation of a sustainable society and addressing climate change. They carried on voting for politicians who pledged to do this.
8) As recently as 2010, the leader of the British Conservative Party, and Prime Minister David Cameron was pledging to create the "greenest government ever". https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/may/14/cameron-wants-greenest-government-ever
9) This pledge by Cameron wasn't something plucked out of thin air to win over the LibDems in 2010. Cameron had put the environment and addressing climate change at the centre of his message since he became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1516276/Cameron-turns-blue-to-prove-green-credentials.html
Cameron turns blue to prove green credentials
David Cameron showed he remained unafraid of Labour's mockery when he leapt aboard a husky-powered sled to visit a remote Norwegian glacier to see first hand the effects of global warming.https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1516276/Cameron-turns-blue-to-prove-green-credentials.html
10) I am not suggesting that David Cameron was at all sincere in his pledges. What I am saying is that addressing the climate and ecological crisis was still enough of a vote winner in 2010, for the leader of the UK Conservatives to use it as a major strategy to win power.
11) Therefore the reason the pledges of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit made by political leaders around the world had not been enacted, was not because of public opposition, because there was still public enthusiasm for it.
12) It was our political leaders who failed to implement what they pledged, not the people, the public who were the obstacle to creating a sustainable economy and society - along with averting the climate crisis.
13) I can still remember the rather bizarre and counter-intuitive justification political leaders gave in the 1990s and early 2000s for the drive for economic growth. They claimed it was to create the wealth necessary to pay for this green transformation. Where is this fund?
14) Climate change denial as a public phenomenon was almost unknown until after 2005. Prior to that climate change was accepted as scientific fact. No one said at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, when the IPCC was set up in 1988 - we have to check whether climate change is real.
15) In fact climate change denial and anti-environmentalism only became more prominent after about 2010 and was initially a fake grass roots campaign funded by fossil fuel billionaires. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/20/conservative-groups-1bn-against-climate-change
16) There was no popular public backlash against addressing the causes of climate change and creating a sustainable society, rather a billionaire funded propaganda campaign to try and create one.
17) Climate change denial as a phenomenon was largely confined to the English speaking countries of the US, the UK and Australia, because most of this billionaire funded climate change denial propaganda was written and spoken in English. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2011/nov/11/climate-change-scienceofclimatechange
18) What COVID-19 has revealed is a public who isn't at all enthusiastic about things returning to normal and wishing for a better society, and political leaders demanding and trying to coerce the public into returning to business as usual. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/21/greener-happier-world-politicians-boris-johnson-consumerism-planet
People want a greener, happier world now. But our politicians have other ideas | George Monbiot
Boris Johnson’s ‘return to normality’ will only mean more consumerism at the expense of the planet – we must resist it, writes Guardian columnist George Monbiothttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/21/greener-happier-world-politicians-boris-johnson-consumerism-planet
19) Our political leaders are the tail attempting to wag the public dog. They have long tried to blame the public demand for their failure to create a greener and sustainable society. COVID-19 exposes this as the lie it always was.
20) One of the main reasons for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was our political leaders were starting to fear the public's concern about environmental impacts and where we were heading. They feared losing control and the public turning to green parties and politicians.
21) So what our political leaders did, is to say there's no need to vote for alternative green politicians and parties, because we will fix the sustainability (ecological) crisis and the climate crisis with business as usual growth economics. They did this to control the agenda.
22) The young climate activists of #FridaysForFuture probably don't realise just how big the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was - "The Earth Summit was the largest gathering of world leaders as of 1992, with 117 heads of state and representatives of 178 nations..." https://www.britannica.com/event/United-Nations-Conference-on-Environment-and-Development
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development | History & Facts
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, conference held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 3–14, 1992), to reconcile worldwide economic development with protection of the environment....https://www.britannica.com/event/United-Nations-Conference-on-Environment-and-Development
23) The other important part of this narrative to understand is that this didn't just start with the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The 1972 UN Human Environment Conference in Stockholm identified most of the issues, which formed the basis of the 1992 Summit.
24) The UN Brundtland Commission which led to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was set up because of the failure to make any progress on the issues identified in the 1972 Conference.