Government Lobbies Itself to Shift Climate Change from Scientific to Cultural Reality

In a bid to shift climate change from a “scientific fact” to a “social fact”, the Royal Society for Arts is running a series of events exploring the “seven main dimensions of the climate problem: science, behaviour, democracy, law, technology, economy and culture.” (h/t Bishop Hill blog).

The second of those events, due to take place on the 11th February, brings together panelists Lord Nicholas Stern; climate scientist Chris Rapley CBE; Green Party member of the London Assembly Baroness Jenny Jones; co-founder of Futerra, Solitaire Townsend; green-energy entrepreneur and founder of Solarcentury Jeremy Leggett; and the  psychoanalytic psychotherapist Rosemary Randall in a Question Time style affair. The series kicked off with a “comedy” event.

The event program is being held in conjunction with the Climate Outreach and Information Network, a ‘think and do’ tank focused on connecting people to climate change and climate change to people, which has identified seven main dimensions to the climate “problem” and suggests ways to overcome them.

For example, on ‘science’, COIN states “we need a new social contract between scientists and society; moving away from a ‘hands-off’ view of expecting ‘more facts’ to somehow produce deeper engagement with climate policies.”

And on ‘democracy’, COIN says that we need to “overcome the governance trap – people expect the government to act but the government thinks that people don’t care about the issue enough; and climate change is a collective action ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem at almost every level.”

Regarding the series of events, the RSA, whose allumni includes Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith and Tim Berners-Lee says “In a bid to generate a new dialogue that sparks enduring change, the RSA is embarking on a series of climate change events with a difference.

“The 2015 Paris climate conference is looming, and there’s widespread consensus that it is our final chance for a truly international, multilateral resolution to the planet’s most pressing challenge.”

By doing so, they are indulging in a case of the government lobbying itself. The Royal Society of the Arts, was, in 2012/13 (the last year for which figures were published) part funded by government departments including DEFRA, quangos such as the Environment Agency and Scottish National Heritage, a number of County and District Councils and Universities including De Montford and Newcastle.

Similarly, on the continent government funded green lobbyists are attempting to prevent a decision to drop a number of new green laws. Four NGOs: Friends of the Earth Europe, Zero Waste Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and Surfrider Foundation Europe have written to Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans demanding to know why a planned directive on waste has been scrapped. Timmerman has said that a new, more ambitious package is to be brought forward.

Matthew Elliott of Business for Britain said: “The signatories of the letter are largely reliant on EU funding so this is a ‘sock puppet’ case of the EU lobbying itself at our expense. It also comes as the former chief scientific adviser to the European Commission accuses EU green NGOs of both ignoring and fabricating evidence. The pervasiveness and power of the green lobby within the EU should be a big cause for concern for both consumers and businesses across the continent.”


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