I’m delighted to say that the RSA has today signed up to 10:10, the new initiative to persuade organisations and individuals to cut their use of energy. The campaign, backed by a sparkling array of celebrities. is the brainchild of Franny Armstrong who was behind the film Age of Stupid which we launched here at the RSA.
The campaign is based on the simple idea that we all have a responsibility to help the nation meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets, and that it really isn’t that hard for us to make a cut in our own energy consumption of 10% by the end of 2010.
It won’t be easy for the RSA to meet our target as we have already done a lot in this area and the age and listed status of the House limits our room for manoeuvre, but we can’t bang on about ‘pro-social’ behaviour if we are not willing to do our bit on what is arguably the most important issue facing humanity.
Today’s 10:10 launch coincides with news that personal debt levels are falling for the first time in more than 15 years. A few months ago many commentators – including me – were suggesting that the global financial meltdown would lead to a fundamental questioning of the values that lay behind the debt bubble. The crisis would be a catalyst for a critique of a society that condoned greed and excess, that suffered from a range of social pathologies including falling levels of general well-being, and that was failing to grasp the scale of the environmental emergency.
But now we are clearly past the low point of the recession the question is: what has really changed? Bonuses are back in the City, house prices are picking up and we never stopped shopping even when it looked like things could be much worse. So is the only impact of the crisis to be on the direct victims – the unemployed and those who have lost their businesses? Is talk of a broader change of social values misplaced? I want to ponder this myself some time over the next few days, but I am, as always, interested to hear other people’s thoughts.
People are making the obvious comparison between the pandemic and the world’s biggest crisis – climate change. But how we make that link will shape our response.