Anthony Giddens Call for Changes in the Politics of Climate Change

Anthony Giddens gave the opening key-note  speech at the GDN 2010 Conference. After a broad introduction of the various climate change camps (the skeptics, the mainstream (ICCP view), and the radicals) he suggested that the Copenhagen Accord represents an advance: it offers a relatively smaller space for negotiation -with fewer actors involved; and it cuts across the difficulty of the split between developing and industrialised nations.

In fact, in his view, it presents an opportunity for a handful of countries to lead the way in developing a number of bilateral deals and multi-party negotiations. These deals, between the biggest polluters, are crucial if any change is to take place.

The accord and the conference, however, failed to discuss the ‘how’ -rather focusing on the ‘what’ of climate change (setting targets).

He closed his speech offering four innovations (of particular relevance to industrial countries):

  1. Pioneer a new politic of the long-term: he called for a return to planning but not necessarily by the State. The market needs to play a role but it must be encouraged to innovate and to ‘think long term’.
  2. Industrialised countries, in particular, need to learn to cope with the political polarization of climate change: He argued that, in particular in the US, the politics of climate change seem to mirror the polarization between the ‘right’ and the ‘left’. This has led to the right, and its political propaganda machine, taking on the scientific establishment -and winning. This, in his view, explains Obama’s failure to offer anything tangible at Copenhagen -his proposals did not have the support of the US political class.
  3. He also argued that it is important to stop thinking about climate change as a cost rather it should be seen as an opportunity for technological and social transformation: any country or business that opposes it will not be able to compete in the new world -where the ‘western’ style of growth is simply not possible any more.
  4. Finally, social innovation is far more important and new utopian realism is necessary to encourage the world to imagine and deliver a more possible world.

See more stories from the GDN 2010 Conference, watch participants’ videos interviews, download conference presentations and papers

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