20 November 2011

Speaking Truth to Power

I have an exciting day this Wednesday and if any readers of this blog would like to join me for part of it that would be very welcome.

Back in the summer I put together some evidence for the Environmental Audit Committee's Inquiry into the Green Economy on behalf of the environmental thinktank Green House. As a result I have now been asked to give evidence to the committee members, who will ask me questions about how we might move towards a green economy.

This is, frankly, rather daunting, and it doesn't help that the sessions take place in the Thatcher Room of Portcullis House! My job appears to be to sit in the heart of government and tell them that the economic model we are working with is not only unsustainable but unjust and unstable into the bargain! The key target of government policy is entirely misguided.

In preparing for this I have come across a very interesting document called Enabling the Transition to a Green Economy. We can celebrate a small victory in that the draft version of this document was labelled as a Roadmap, something Green House criticised in our evidence. Like the report 'Keeping the Lights on' about energy a few years back, it makes clear the mental barriers to a sustainable future.

This report is not that encouraging, clearly identifying business rather than people as the key partner in the transition to a green economy. It focuses on efficiency and competitiveness, with no mention of the structural problems of a capitalist, growth-based economy. This is my clear task for Wednesday, and in the face of the evidence of the hegemony of business it is no wonder I feel rather daunted.

After the Commons I am moving down river to speak to the Occupy London protestors at their Tent City University. With luck I may be moved into the Bank of Ideas at the newly occupied former UBS building. I am calling my presentation 'The Audit-city of Hope', which doesn't quite work but you know what I mean. I hope to radicalise the demands beyond 'What do we want?' 'Better regulation of the banking sector'; 'When do we want it?', 'Within a reasonable timeframe'. My focus is going to be on building the energy to establish a national audit committee to find out who we owe the debt to and decide what proportion of it can reasonably be repaid.


  1. Good luck. you'll need it.

    fundamentally the issues concerning the occupy "movement" and those concerned about the environmental crisis are not so far apart, as I am sure you are aware Molly. our credit based money system demands perpetual growth with every note created or else we fall into the deflationary spiral that the policy-makers dread.

    your views may be well accepted at the hearing but I don't think we have the political will to do deal with such difficult underlying problems.

  2. "My focus is going to be on building the energy to establish a national audit committee to find out who we owe the debt to and decide what proportion of it can reasonably be repaid."

    From what I could make out via a complicated diagram on the Beeb news site, we are owed about as much as we owe.

    What seems to be needed most is some framework for an alternative economy spelled out in words short enough for our politicians to grasp before they are voted out and the next lot are voted in. Find a way to harness all the hot air produced by fruitless committee meetings inventing meaningless slogans and we will have a new source of renewable energy! Aim to get quantifiable targets, not weasel words and soppy slogans.

    Good luck at the meeting, if anyone can explain things, it has to be you.