As if it wasn’t bad enough that politicians all over are
using the worldwide recession as an excuse not to push
ahead with green agendas—you know, wacky ideas like
building no new roads and making economies truly
sustainable—we now have US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton soft-pedalling on human rights issues for the
same reason. Now’s not the time to press China on
issues like Tibet, she says; such matters can’t be allowed
to ‘interfere with the global economic crisis.’ Yes. Well,
it’s only silly old human rights after all. All those being
persecuted or held without trial in China will understand
perfectly that the needs of Wall St and global currency
speculators come before theirs. Get the money right first
and all else will follow: democracy, justice, equality of
opportunity—that’s how it goes, isn’t it?
Conspiracy theorists might almost be tempted to observe
how conveniently the financial crisis allows politicians to
put aside girly issues like human rights and climate
change while they get on with the real man’s work of
making more money go round. They have it both ways.
When there’s no great economic urgency, they put off the
hard ecological decisions, as most governments have
been doing for the past 40 years; and when there is great
economic urgency they put them off then, too. Neat.
Yet in my experience, if governments really want to do
something and drive it through and embed it in the system
for generations to come, they can, they will—and they do.
Think Rogernomics. The green agenda awaits, dare I say it,
its Roger Douglas or Margaret Thatcher—I mean, someone
with that kind of drive and determination. But nicer, of
course; much, much nicer.
In the meantime, new energy minister Gerry Brownlee calls
the Clark government’s energy strategy (90 percent of
electricity from renewable resources by 2025) idealistic and
ideologically driven, and commits National instead to the
overriding goal of maximizing economic growth. In the year
2009, that is bizarre, dangerous, sad and stupid all in one.