Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Paul Rogers, "Climate change: a failure of leadership," openDemocracy, May 8, 2009.

[Rogers main emphasis is on the convergence of climate change and economic crisis ("the great recession"), but at the very beginning he adds yet another item--the Millennium Development Goals. Not long ago Stephen Harper announced that Canada hadn't met the token Kyoto targets and wasn't going to. That was a systemic failure that he managed to unload onto the Liberals. However, we may suppose that gushing carbon dioxide is one of the perils of industrial society regardless whether it may organized along capitalistic or socialistic lines. Small, disciplined and modestly socialistic countries that weren't much of the problem in the first place did manage to meet their Kyoto targets--and to allocate 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid as well.

In countries like Britain, the US and Canada where noblesse oblige has been part of the official line we like to repeat about ourselves for many generations, it takes the threat of losing job and home to interrupt our carbon frenzy.

Add to that the failure to reach MDG targets and the failure to relieve the debt burden of even the most desperate and/or deserving nations (HIPC), and we have what many are saying we have--a wholesale, systemic failure. While the political classes babble about market-based solutions, voters for whom the loftiest ethical aspiration is "rational self-interest" reject Dion's Green Shift. Closer to home, political expediency motivates the BC NDP to oppose a carbon tax and to propose market-based green bubble bonds instead. It's not Obama who can't change. It's the lot of us. We are trapped in a system that can still buy soporific PR it likes ("this is the worst recession since the 90s"), but doesn't have the wherewithal to stop treating its support like suckers (still needs suckers for a good day). -jlt]

The spreading effects of the global economic recession are making the hopes of reaching even the modest Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the target date of 2015 recede even further.

The Global Monitoring Report 2009: A Development Emergency, released on 24 April 2009, outlines some of these likely effects in stark terms. The economic growth-rate of countries in the global south, which was 8.1% in 2006-07, is expected to fall to 1.6% in 2009. The worldwide recession will mean that huge numbers of people - estimated as between 55 million and 90 million people - will be additionally trapped in extreme poverty this year. The recent gains in fighting malnutrition (whose elimination is the first goal of the MDG) will be reversed, as the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb to over 1 billion.

  The overall political reaction from governments and transnational bodies is a very long way from guaranteeing any fundamental changes to the world economy.
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