Tactical compromise or purist ideology

by frog

The Herald’s editorial this morning is an interesting one.  It looks at the Green’s dilemma over whether to support the Emissions Trading Scheme or not this Tuesday. It notes the ongoing negotiations and significant home insulation gains that the Greens have won so far. Enough it suggests for the Greens to engage in the politics of ‘tactical compromise’, rather than ‘purist ideology’:

But the danger is that, if the ETS passes with Green support, the main parties – and the country – will sit back and regard the job as done.

The Greens rightly object that the scheme as it stands does not address the threat boldly enough, that the cost is falling too much on consumers and not enough on polluters and that the agriculture and transport sectors are being protected from the scheme’s requirements for too long.

The fact is – the dwindling band of dissenters notwithstanding – that the pace of climate change is outstripping the human race’s response to it. As a result we risk becoming, like a rabbit trapped in a truck’s headlight beam, paralysed by our own inaction.

Here the editorial is echoing international scientific opinion that we now have a very short amount of time left to act and that action needs, as the Herald says, to be bold. Not only is the ETS currently unfair, it is strikingly too timid.

For too long, major party policies have focused on protecting our brand in international trade and minimising the effect on industry and agriculture on the grounds that it would cost us too much to do more. But as the Stern Review and other research has starkly shown, the cost of not doing enough is much higher.

The Greens are right to continue acting as the nation’s conscience and holding out for meaningful change. Recycling soft-drink bottles is not going to be enough.

It’s worrying that other parties, presumably also cogniscent of the scientific imperative we face, are still willing put in place a short term compromise that might become a long term millstone. There should be equal political pressure on them to all make a conscionable decision on Tuesday too.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Sun, August 24th, 2008   

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