Recent posts

  • Concerns for the safety of the witness to Berta Cáceres’s murder

    The international community calls for a transparent investigation of the murder of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres shot last Thursday, and the protection of her fellow activists. We specifically call for the protection of the only witness – Gustavo Castro Soto, director of Otros Mundos Mexico (Friends of the Earth Mexico). Furthermore, Soto should be […]
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  • Paris climate deal is a sham

    “Rich countries have moved the goal posts so far that we are left with a sham of a deal in Paris. Through piecemeal pledges and bullying tactics, rich countries have pushed through a very bad deal,”
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  • The Open Society and its New Enemies

    We live in curious times. We are enduring a series of interconnected global crises, but seem to have lost the will to demand — or even believe in the possibility of — radical change. Banks may crash and jobs melt away, the rich can get richer and the poor poorer. Forests can burn, towns flood, […]
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Why the struggle to turn climate change into a ‘good news story’ could backfire.

Where do you stand on the climate change question du jour? Do you think COP 21 in Paris was a success? Or do you think it was a failure? Or are you simply perplexed, wondering why on earth there are such widely differing interpretations in the first place?

It’s tempting—depending on your perspective—to blame over-optimistic Candides or doom-and-gloom merchants for spinning the outcome the wrong way. But this curious tension is itself a significant outcome, which is worth looking at in much more detail.

Why? Well, when you start to unpack the reasons behind it, out tumble a heap of seemingly intractable problems relating to communicating climate change that have been—and still are—stopping us doing much about it. If we can figure these out, we might have a better chance of getting to grips with climate change, before the window of time we have left slams shut.

The main problem is that—for all the fanfare about COP 21’s successful conclusion—Paris was really a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea (as many people following the negotiations know only too well, even if they are reluctant to talk about it publicly).

Essentially, for many it was a desperate hunt for a ‘good news story’ with a happy ending—all countries finally on board, after more than twenty years of wrangling. What could be better? But behind the scenes a highly risky and unprincipled deal was struck, specifically to get that ‘good news story’. Unnervingly, it’s a deal that could stop us dealing with climate change at all. Could such a story possibly be worth the devilish compromises buried in the text?

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