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One of the challenges of blogging (so I’m told) is to see how many strands can be incorporated in the smallest number of words. Today I want to cover:

One of the challenges of blogging (so I’m told) is to see how many strands can be incorporated in the smallest number of words. Today I want to cover:

  • The search for a EU agreement on climate change targets
  • An event at the RSA
  • Cultural theory
  • My time at Number Ten
  • What I am doing today
  • All in 350 words (obviously, this doesn’t include this bit). Here we go:

     

    We will be wishing Ed Miliband well today as he tries to persuade other EU countries to sign up to an ambitious carbon emissions reduction target. Climate change really emerged as a key national policy priority during my time in Number Ten. I remember one particularly important meeting with TB when he endorsed a ‘wedge’ approach (I think that was what it was called), in which Government backed many different interventions; partly because progress demanded we use every tool in the kit but also because we couldn’t tell which method would turn out to be the most effective. So nuclear power would be pursued, along with renewables, along with action to reduce industrial and domestic energy consumption, along with backing new energy efficient technologies etc.

    But this plural approach to policy interventions needs to be matched by a plural approach to human agency. Last night we had a lively debate as part of the WWF-UK series on values and sustainability. Three speakers – Jules Peck, Bishop James Jones and Professor Tim Jackson – said sustainability requires a revolution in values led by pioneers willing to live very different lives. Our contrarian was David Aaronovitch. He argued that the green movement does itself no favours when it is associated with self righteousness and a censorious attitude to the behaviour of non-greenies, particularly the aspirations of the less well off.

    If I’d had the chance to make a point I would have talked about cultural theory saying that a plural approach to sustainability should mobilise not just the egalitarian instinct of confirmed greenies but also hierarchical interventions (like the EU agreement) and individualism. Only by mobilising all the ways that people think about and act on change can we tackle the popular default on climate change which is fatalism (‘what difference can I make?’).

    One of the examples cultural theorists give of a failed solution is Kyoto which was a hierarchical intervention lacking any story of how to tap into individualist sentiment or tackle fatalism. This afternoon I am off to a cultural theory seminar at the LSE. It will be interesting to see what is said about sustainability.

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