When the Stern Review came out in late 2006, I scanned the papers to see if any of the Great and Good pundits would write something along the lines of-
“Er, ok, we misunderestimated the ecological consequences of rampant growth. We acknowledge that the greens, of various shades, got there first, about twenty years ago. So, in our new spirit of humility, we will now look at what greens are NOW saying, and engage with that seriously,- regardless of how deeply it offends our cherished beliefs- so 20 years hence, we’re not making the same sheepish announcement that we’re making today.”
But now, Dieter Helm, a respected (and IMHO, from previous reading I’ve done, worthy of respect) economist specialising in energy policy, has come out and said “the Environmentalists are right.” Helm is no swivel-eyed loon, and cannot be dismissed as such.
His lecture is extraordinary, and provides a HUGE stick for Greens to wave around in debates about economics, climate change, our way out of this grotesque mess that we in the West have created for everyone and everything on this rather lovely planet.
I’ll quote a bit, but the lead up and everything is worth close attention. It’s only 12 pages, but it’s the most vital reading you will do for quite a while.
The environmentalists are right
What then can we conclude? First, the conventional economic growth model is at best highly misleading when applied to the big environmental question of our time. The environment is not just another factor input. Second, our consumption is far too high, and incompatible with sustainability. Third, by focusing on consumption rather than production, the developed countries have a dominant responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and biodiversity destruction – including much of that happening in developing and poor countries. Fourth, the solution to our environmental problems is therefore a significant transfer of wealth, resources and technology to the developing world.
The solution to our environmental problems is not wishful thinking. It is cold, hard realism. That has not been helped by the selective quoting by politicians from the Stern Report. It is time to tell voters some unpleasant facts.