Greenpeace’s Executive Director replies (sort of) to my post on why they’re part of the problem on global climate policy

Last week, I published a post here arguing that Greenpeace is (and has been for a long time) part of the problem on global climate policy – in a nutshell, because the organisation has for years and years ducked the twin issues of a global carbon budget, and the need for fair shares within it.

Greenpeace International’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, has now come back to me on Twitter with a reply. He says,

@alexevansuk Incorrect that GP hasn’t promoted carbon budgets. See NGO Treaty from 2009.

Which kind of begs the rejoinder: If Greenpeace is such a big advocate for the idea of carbon budgets, how come it hasn’t mentioned carbon budgets since 2009 (and never, as far as I can tell, in any of its own reports)? How come the Greenpeace International web page on “Climate Solutions” makes no reference whatsoever to the idea of a global carbon budget? And does Kumi Naidoo’s reply mean that they’ll be correcting that small oversight forthwith – and if not, why not?

More fundamentally, why is it that the report that Kumi Naidoo linked to in his tweet says nothing about the idea of fair shares to a global carbon budget?

If that’s all Kumi Naidoo has to say in reply, then it just proves the point that Greenpeace doesn’t get it about equity and carbon budgets. When Greenpeace talks about a carbon budget, it doesn’t talk about fair shares to it. When it talks about equity, it doesn’t talk about carbon budgets. It either doesn’t understand or – I would argue – doesn’t want to face up to the fact that that talk of carbon budgets and equity is simply meaningless unless you connect the dots between the two.

A carbon budget is just a concept until you actually share it out between all of the word’s countries. And equity is just a nice idea unless you’re talking about what it means in the context of fair entitlements to the space within global environmental limits.

I’m still hoping for a serious reply from Kumi Naidoo, in particular to my argument that Greenpeace’s silence about the issue of fair shares to a global carbon budget amounts to complicity in a 21st century form of enclosure (see the end of my original post). This wasn’t it.

Resource scarcity in Ethiopia

Global concern is currently mounting all over again about the impacts of a more resource-scarce world, with particular attention focused at present on the risks of a renewed global food price spike following a spate of extreme weather in the US and around the world. Two weeks ago, corn and soyabean prices broke the record they had set during the 2008 food spike, while wheat prices have increased by 50% over the last five weeks.

These global trends have the potential to cause massive problems for a country like Ethiopia – where wheat is by far the country’s biggest import by value. And that’s before you take into account low agricultural yields and farm sizes, major exposure to drought, limited access to energy, and how these challenges will be magnified by high rates of population and economic growth, which will increase demand for resources – as well as intensifying climate change impacts

Against this backdrop, the NYU Center on International Cooperation has just published a new report of mine entitled Resources, Risks and Resilience: Scarcity and climate change in Ethiopia.  This is the first in a series of CIC case studies on the risks that resource scarcity and climate change pose to poor countries – and on how those countries and their international partners can build resilience to them. (A second case study, on resource scarcity in Pakistan, is currently being prepared by David Steven; plans are also in train to undertake a third study on Nigeria.)

While the report sets out a daunting set of scarcity-driven challenges for Ethiopia, it also notes that Ethiopia’s government is well aware of the challenges it faces, and has put in place a battery of policies to address them – including, notably, the breathtaking aim of becoming a middle income country by 2025 with zero net growth in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as an extremely ambitious (and controversial) program of dam-building and large scale agricultural projects.

As well as assessing these policies, the report also identifies a range of vulnerabilities, policy gaps and exogenous risks that will need to be taken account of in future planning by the government and its international partners. It concludes by setting out a ten point agenda on how Ethiopia’s government and partners can improve their performance in managing scarcity issues. Continue reading

Osborne just doesn’t make the cut

As Chancellor George Osborne thanks the London Olympics for taking him off the front pages, he might want to take advantage of the breathing space to have an image makeover.

One colleague who may be able to provide some tips is his sharp-suited Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander. The former Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg, Alexander’s distinctive style and dress sense have made him something of a fashion hero in the more unlikeliest of places – Pakistan.

Sharp-suited Danny Alexander MP adorns a store front in Islamabad

As you can see, the owner of Wazir tailors in downtown Islamabad was in no doubt that Alexander trumped Osborne in the style stakes, using this timeless image taken from the 2010 Spending Review for his store front, with Osborne sadly not making the cut.

Why Greenpeace is part of the problem on global climate policy

On Twitter a couple of days ago, Greenpeace International’s executive director Kumi Naidoo penned an appeal for people to become Greenpeace members. I threw off a series of tweets in reply saying that Greenpeace was part of the problem rather than part of the solution on global climate policy and that there was no way I would ever join Greenpeace given its current position – prompting a few people (including Kumi himself) to ask what I meant, and why I was on such a downer on Greenpeace. Here’s my answer. Continue reading

Are Language Policies Increasing Poverty and Inequality?

African Languages

Language is one of the most neglected areas in the development field. It barely registers on any agenda to help poor countries despite its importance to a number of crucial areas and it being a barrier to progress in many fragile states. Why is this? Continue reading

Let’s be Norway (part 3)

Continuing an occasional series about why the UK could take a leaf out of Norway’s foreign policy book on, well, pretty much every front (previous instalments here and here), here’s the BBC’s Richard Galpin on how Norway is dealing with terrorism a year on from Utoeya:

At the political level, the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pledged to do everything to ensure the country’s core values were not undermined.”The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” he said.

A year later it seems the prime minister has kept his word. There have been no changes to the law to increase the powers of the police and security services, terrorism legislation remains the same and there have been no special provisions made for the trial of suspected terrorists. On the streets of Oslo, CCTV cameras are still a comparatively rare sight and the police can only carry weapons after getting special permission.

Even the gate leading to the parliament building in the heart of Oslo remains open and unguarded. “It is still easy to get access to parliament and we hope it will stay that way, ” said Lise Christoffersen, a Labour party MP.

Via Bruce Schneier. Full disclosure: I am slightly Norwegian (and feeling more so every day…)


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