By George Monbiot.
A consensus has recently emerged amongst environmentalists and green activists that the British financial sector has made great progress in helping to reduce carbon emissions. A glance at The Science, however, reveals that this is not the case. Since most of the British economy was destroyed after September 2007, our carbon emissions have fallen by only 2.5%, and, moreover, the global level of emitted carbon may actually have risen, due to the popular Chinese craze for building coal-fired power stations. British bankers appear to be vaguely conscious of their environmental obligations – refusing to lend money to small businesses and repossessing people’s homes goes some way to reducing our carbon footprint – but the banks seem anxious to avoid troubling some of the bigger carbon culprits, namely those wicked corporations. Real change will only be made on carbon emissions when we repossess a few Tescos.
There is a notable exception. Social visionaries are rarely popular in their own lifetimes, but history will surely rank Fred the Shred alongside our generation’s foremost environmentalists – such as myself and Jonathon Porritt – for showing the degree of leadership which this country needs if it is to truly kick its carbon habit. If you look at The Science, Sir Fred is personally responsible for reducing Britain’s carbon emissions by 1.8% – an outstanding achievement which makes my own efforts look almost paltry. It may seem a little quaint to glorify Sir Fred as a patriotic hero, but he provides a genuine example for future generations of greens.
British bankers should join with the rest of us in signing the 10:10 pledge, which promises to reduce British carbon emissions back to the level which they were at in the year 1010AD. This will be achieved by covering Britain’s most polluting cities with vast Perspex domes, thereby trapping all of their smoke and fumes within sealed airtight bubbles. If you have ever neglected to clean out a fish tank, you will have some idea of what this process entails. The interior gets increasingly murkier, until the inhabitants die in their own filth. This will leave vast, unspoilt stretches of British countryside for me to drive about in my Renault Clio. Perhaps the big black domes which were once Manchester or Birmingham could be covered in Astroturf, to make them more sightly, and music could be played to drown out the sound of the people inside screaming and hammering on the Perspex walls to be let out.
I was thinking of this yesterday when I was paddling down the river Thames in my kayak. “Hello trees! Hello flowers!” I called to the passing riverbank. How splendid it must be to live the life of a gypsy or an animal, cunning and free, and the more that one looks at the river, the more it resembles the delicatessen counter in Sainsbury’s – there are yummy pike and delicious otters, and you can just pull them out the river and eat them. There is inevitably an absence of proper labelling to inform the consumer about the ethical pedigree of these products. I heard my assistants shouting after me to get back to the office, but I jumped on the back of a dolphin and pranced away.
[George has previously written for Tychy here. Ed.]