James Forsyth has another of his Uber-deferential articles today in The Times under the headline “Johnson’s great climate change challenge”. It’s sycophantic nonsense as usual.
Serendipity has meant that Britain will Chair G7 and COP26 at a time when it is uniquely unqualified to do so. The irony of the idea of the U.K. leading any global initiative when it has become the most isolated major nation on the planet is profound. And the idea that Johnson’s government can be a “Green” one is almost comical.
Progress on environmental issues demands transnational cooperation. The destruction of the environment on Earth by excess carbon emissions can only be avoided by working together. The forces of Nationalism that govern everything that the current British government does run utterly counter to this. If you break away from productive cooperation with your neighbours on trade and every other economic matter , as we have, how can you credibly lead or even participate in global initiatives that demand cooperation?
The ideological drivers of Johnson’s government are far from the political mainstream. They are libertarian, individualistic and profoundly anti socialist. They embrace cheering on the individual rather than the community and free enterprise rather than collectivity. They certainly subscribe to the view that there is no such thing as society, only families.
The political positioning of the influencers on Johnson’s motley crew hail from the world where climate change scepticism is as much a creed as Euroscepticism and a horror of taxation. There is a perfect correlation between ardent Brexiteer and ardent anti tree-hugger mindsets. Look at the likes of James Delingpole and his friends if you doubt that.
Individual behaviour is not primarily altruistic. David Attenborough’s recent cry from the heart on “Perfect Planet” was moving but in the main as individuals we either won’t or can’t respond to it. Change can only come at the highest level of governance in Europe or internationally. And among the tools of change taxation is the most important and most effective one.
Carbon taxes require that the biggest polluters pay not as punishment but as an incentive for them to change. Vehicle emissions are one of Britain’s major environmental threats but we do little or nothing to curb this. To substantially increase fuel duty would be the most effective way to encourage a switch to public transport and to reduce uneccesary journeys. For years no British government has had the guts to do this. Johnson’s certainly won’t.
When the “Economy” plays the “Environment” and when “short term profit” plays “long term environment protection” in Johnson’s world there can only be one winner. He might get in trouble over the breakfast table but “Green Boris” is a hypocritical oxymoron.