21 July 2010
Producing a report, as a government body, that recommended ending economic growth was always a risk. It seems that the Sustainable Development Commission just went to far, when its economics commissioner Tim Jackson did this last year. Reports suggest that the closure of the SDC is to save money, but with such an absurdly small budget this is surely just political cover.
For more than ten years now, the Sustainable Development Commission has been trying to do what I, and many other green commentators, think is impossible: persuading those who hold power in business and politics within this paradigm that they should take a path that does not threaten the planet. They did this politely, and in a measured way, backing their arguments up with clear and irrefutable evidence.
This result is that the SDC has been closed. This is surely evidence in itself, if such evidence were needed, that the existing power structures cannot be changed incrementally, from within. We need to recognise that the political system we struggle with will not allow us make the changes that the planet needs - the Westminster system of power and its corporate lobbyists are corrupt from top to bottom.
Tim Jackson's report was the latest and clearest statement of the total incompatibility of capitalism with sustainability. He may not have phrased it in those terms, but since capitalism cannot survive without growth, to challenge growth is to challenge capitalism itself. So I am not surprised that the SDC has met its doom; I only hope that those who thought that the art of persuasion could be successful will learn this lesson and have the courage to join us in building the new paradigm outside the mainstream. Tweet