In a move entirely indicative of utter recklessness and short sighted foolishness, David Cameron has appointed an oil executive as a key advisor to his government on energy and environment policy, just months before we are due to attend the United Nation’s global summit on climate change in Paris. Whilst the Number 10 spokesman has defended his appointment, The Guardian has already drawn attention to the fact that Stephen Heidairi-Robinson seems to have little if any previous experience in environment or climate change policy.
Inviting an oil executive into the halls of power has already led Greenpeace to draw an analogy with “asking Count Dracula for advice before a conference on veganism”, and it seems far from hyperbolic to suggest that Cameron is guilty of dining with the devil on this one. We cannot risk frittering away our time with this sort of puerile backdoor politics when we face a very real and imminent situation of climate disaster. This government, with its worrying parliamentary majority allowing it to rule unchallenged, seems hell-bent on pursuing an agenda which is more shaped by fossil fuel lobbyists, than it is informed by any sort of concern for the natural world.
Whether it has been pushing for the expansion of fracking across the United Kingdom, flying in the face of staunch opposition from environmental experts who draw attention time and again to the risky nature of the practice, or in their expansion of ideological austerity to include hamstringing the renewable energies sector, this government seems to be utterly backward in its devil-may-care attitude to climate change. Perhaps it isrunning the logic that it is better to scoop out a profit now than it is to give half a damn about an impending global crisis. If business banking is on the top floor, why should they worry about rising sea levels anyway?
On a more optimistic note, Corbyn’s appointment of Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, as the Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is nothing short of a wonderful development for challenging our political culture of exploitation towards the natural world.
As someone who recognises the inherent cruelty and environmental degradation which accompany the farming of dairy and livestock, Kerry McCarthy is well placed to comment on and refute Cameron’s increasingly dubious environmental policy. Whilst Cameron’s government backs the reintroduction of fox hunting, the culling of badgers and the degradation of the natural world for a quick profit, we can be sure that the opposition will hold the reigning party to account.
However this development should not distract us from the fact that the key champions of the environment in UK politics, the Green Party of England and Wales, are excluded from Westminster despite massive electoral success due to the peculiarities and anachronisms of the first past the post system. Whilst in previous years rhetoric has revolved around the idea that we have sleepwalked into the current climate crisis, spending years in ignorance as to the effects of our wanton pollution, we now need to reform this conversation. We need to recognise that what we are complicit in is more like a suicidal and ever accelerating race to oblivion than some form of idle carelessness.
If our supposedly representative governments continue to act against our interests in this way then we need to better organise and execute our response to their failings, it is no longer enough to sigh every time Cameron inches the clock towards environmental catastrophe.
Though marches and petition will not ever outweigh the weight of lobbyist money in parliamentary pockets, we cannot afford to let our apathy indulge their misanthropy.