Politics, they say, is the art of the possible. But the possible is not fixed. What we believe is possible depends on our knowledge and beliefs about the world. Ideas can change the world, and Green House is about challenging the ideas that have created the world we live in now, and offering positive alternatives.
The problems we face are systemic, and so the changes we need to make are complex and interconnected. Many of the critical analyses and policy prescriptions that will be part of the new paradigm are already out there. Our aim is to communicate them more clearly, and more widely.
In this, we will remain independent of political parties, campaigns or commercial vested interests, but will be happy to cooperate with anybody – individuals or organisations – who shares our beliefs and our sense of urgency.
FACING UP TO CLIMATE REALITY
Green House has launched a new major project. This project addresses the widening chasm between climate science and climate policy, the reasons for it, and how to bridge it. Its starting point is that the time for false hope is past, and only courageous realism will enable us to respond adequately to now inevitable and impending serious climate damage. This message – as we have found already when expressing it in public – can be cathartic, leading to a realistic assessment of future needs and prospects and avoiding the despair and paralysis that result from the collapse of a fragile or shallow optimism. The premise and shape of the project are set out in an introductory essay available here.
As the second publication under the umbrella of this project, we are very pleased to publish an essay by Robert Hutchison entitled ‘This Moment: the emergency, the opportunity’. Hutchison argues powerfully that the climate situation must be declared and treated as a global emergency if we are to have any chance of responding appropriately. Unlike Brian Heatley and Rupert Read in their Introduction to the project (link above), he still sees the very urgency of the situation as primarily an opportunity, in that the recognition of the emergency may be precisely what is required to trigger action to avert it, whereas Heatley and Read believe that the time for averting the worst of the catastrophe has almost certainly passed, and that ‘appropriate action’ now means mitigation not so much of human-caused climate change itself, but of the worst impacts that now unavoidable change will visit on global human civilization. The debate between these two slightly different perspectives on the climate reality that now faces us is a vital one: it might even be termed the vital debate of our time. We are delighted to have the chance here of provoking and furthering that debate by publishing this important essay.
DEALING WITH EXTREME WEATHER
The next event linked to our 'Facing up to Climate Reality' project is an international conference on how to deal with the kind of extreme weather events that climate change is bringing. This event will consider the impact of the Lancaster floods of December 2015 and will compare this experience with other experiences of extreme weather events across Europe, and will feature speakers involved in city planning and administration from a number of other European countries. We will share knowledge and experience and work together towards better planning and civic responses. It will take place in Lancaster on Saturday 28 October. The event is free to attend, and you can register here.
As well as the conference on the Saturday, on Friday evening there will be an opportunity to see the film ‘Pedalling and Paddling’, made by a local film maker, about a group from Lancaster setting off to cycle to the COP21 talks in Paris just as the floods hit Lancaster; and on Saturday evening, an opportunity to see the play ‘Blackout’ at the Dukes Theatre, based on local people’s experience of the power cut. Details of these linked events will be sent to everyone who registers for the conference.
This event is organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Green House Think Tank and with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.
Green House is coordinating a transnational project for the Green European Foundation entitled ‘The potential impact of Brexit on the prospects for a Green transition in Europe’. Six countries are taking part – France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and the UK. In each country, a public discussion event will be held with a particular focus on the implications of Brexit for that country; the events will be linked by a common framework of questions, and the concluding conference – in London on 11 November – will bring together representatives from the all the participating countries and organisations for mutual learning and planning. It is anticipated that the project will result in a book to be published in 2018.
Ray Cunningham, who is coordinating the project for Green House, has written a short survey of the Brexit landscape for the Green European Journal. The article links to the project page on the Green European Foundation website, with details of all the forthcoming events.
Linked to this project, Green House members Victor Anderson and Rupert Read have written a report for Green MEP Molly Scott Cato entitled ‘Brexit and Trade: Moving from Globalisation to Self-Reliance?’. The report was launched at a seminar at Europe House in central London on Tuesday 28 March. Copies of the report are available here.
A GREEN TRANSITION FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT
Moving from Europe to a small island economy (and we don't mean the UK), we have published a new Report on the economics of transition at the local level. ‘A Green Transition for the Isle of Wight’, by Jonathan Essex and Peter Sims, develops a mathematical model for calculating the potential for new job creation in a green transition at the local level. It can be downloaded for free here, or ordered in printed form from our 'Publications' pages. The report will be presented and debated at a public discussion event on the Isle of Wight on 21 July. More details to follow.
A CRITIQUE OF THE RSA'S 'INCLUSIVE GROWTH COMMISSION'
Our latest Green House 'Gas' is a response to the RSA’s high-profile ‘Inclusive Growth' project, and it argues that that project is fatally flawed by its failure to question the growth imperative and to recognise that ‘growth’ is often a substitute for redistribution – for genuine inclusion. You can download it here.
GREEN POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Widening the focus again, from the Isle of Wight to the global South, Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex (and a member of Green House's Advisory Group) argues that we urgently need to bring Green politics to bear to chart a different model of development that provides real prosperity and well-being for all the planet’s inhabitants while placing sustainability centrally. This would be a radically different approach to development that addresses the root causes of under-development in growth mania, unregulated global business, militarism and worsening inequalities. To achieve this requires a progressive development politics that forges alliances with sympathetic governments and institutions and social movements and NGOs seeking to realise a vision of development as if both people and planet mattered.
This is intended to kick-start a bigger debate. To join in, download Green Politics and International Development here.
‘Limits to growth’ comes to Westminster at last!
A report from the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth at the House of Commons by Green House Chair, Rupert Read
Growing is a dangerous business. A person over seven feet tall is at massive extra risk of having a heart attack. Imagine how it would be for them at eight feet tall. Or nine. Or…
Aren’t we always told that ‘the sky’s the limit’? That more growth is clearly better?
Green House is delighted to welcome two new members to its Adivsory Group. They are Norman Baker, the former Transport Minister and long-serving MP for Lewes, now working directly in one of the areas he promoted politically, that of green transport; and Julian Huppert, the prominent scientist, transport and civil rights activist and former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge. More details on all the members of our expert Advisory Group can be found by clicking on the relevant drop-down heading under 'People' above.
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