09 January 2007

Tony Blair And Having A Good Time

I thought I'd reached the point where Tony Blair couldn't surprise me anymore. Well, mea culpa, I was wrong.

Blair now says it's "a bit impractical" to expect people to make personal sacrifices by taking holidays closer to home. He won't impose "unrealistic targets" on travellers.

Blair continues: "You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician who's actually running for office who's going to come out and say it - and they're not ... It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere." He goes on to say that "Britain is 2% of the world's emissions. We shut down all of Britain's emissions tomorrow - the growth in China will make up the difference within two years."

Finally, the doozy for me: "you've got to [push emissions reductions] in a way that doesn't end up actually putting people off the green agenda by saying you must not have a good time any more and can't consume."

Christ, where to begin?

- The "we're only 2%" argument gets trotted out ... well, dozens of countries can say that we're only 1%, or we're only 1.5%, or we're only 2% ... twenty 1.5% countries add up to 30% of the world's emissions.

- "It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere" ... hello, that's the idea behind road pricing and the congestion charge. Emissions come from transport. The only way to reduce emissions, both driving and flying, is to drive and fly less.

- George Monbiot points out that Blair's own statements in 2006 clash with this "let's all feel great about consuming" attitude to long-haul flights:

Last year, you launched the Stern review on climate change with these words: "Unless we act now, not some time distant but now, these consequences, disastrous as they are, will be irreversible. So there is nothing more serious, more urgent or more demanding of leadership."

Let me remind you of something else you said last year, at the launch of the Clinton Climate Initiative: "If we do not regard this issue with the gravity it demands, if we do not motivate ourselves to take the decisions commensurate with the gravity of the threat that we face, we will betray in the most irresponsible way the generations to come. That is not something I want on my conscience as a political leader."

It's just amazing that Blair can emphasis the seriousness of the situation, and then say, hey, we can't spoil people's fun. It just reveals how shallow and childlike his political thinking really is. Can't do what's right, otherwise, people might not like me.

- Where's David Cameron in all of this? I mean, he's quick enough to defend Ruth Kelly, and this is a pretty big own goal by the PM. If Cameron does support initiatives like The Big Ask, he needs to be pretty clear about supporting restrictions on flying ... all of us need to use some of Cameron's vaunted "social responsibility" to rein in our "inner tosser" who's telling us to fly.

Unless of course, Cameron's just playing the environment card for show, and he's not speaking out as he doesn't want to alienate all his nice new friends across the country, the middle-class previously-Tory swing voters that he needs to win marginals. Can't do what's right, otherwise, people might not like me.

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