Which is the biggest cause of poverty: Climate change of fighting climate change? Can we choose to solve just one and then count on the other to disappear? Will free markets replace development aid?
Nine different problems or one big problem?
The eight development goals set forth by the United Nations cannot meaningfully be separated from the issue of climate change. In TH!NK2 I first addressed biodiversity (goal 7) then food security (goal one) in relation to climate change. And the first thing I did in TH!NK3 was pick up on the most obvious connections from the MDGs to climate change.
In stead of writing even more about it, I made an illustration of it. I'd like critique.
My past three articles mainly deals with the top left corner of that illustration. Climate change is a serious challenge to food production, it has to be solved in collaboration and it will negatively impact the environment. Women bearing the brunt of the impact from climate change was a point being made by, among others, Anna-Maria Penu of TH!NK2; so I added an arrow to the right as well. I also added a green arrow to education because more of it could probably diminish denialism as well as help people cause less climate change.
Finally, I added a number of grey arrows to show the most obvious connections in between the MDGs. Too many, too few? What do you think?
More coal power plants and free markets will solve climate change!?
The Danish government recently shuffeled ministers. Our new minister of development aid is Søren Pind of the liberal party. He's mostly known for being very liberal – as in neoliberal, basically. Today, one of his party squires, Karsten Lauritzen, was quoted for the following comment to Denmark voting for a World Bank loan to fund a new South African coal plant (my translation):
“A prerequisite for economic growth on the African continent is cheap energy, and therefore we have chosen to support a loan for a coal plant.
One can be a COP15 host country and vote for a coal plant simultaneously. The World Bank's purpose in this case is primarily to create growth and development in African countries, and here it is a fact that countries can get more energy out of a coal plant – of which we have many in Denmark – than we can by constructing a lot of dubious windmill projects.
we must make Africa prepared for climate changes. This is done by creating growth and development, and it is done by providing them with cheap energy instead of expensive energy.”
I tried explaining this in TH!NK2 – the Danish government is traditionally and for a large part still against windmills. The Danish windmills were largely constructed before they took over from the Social Democrats almost 10 years ago. The animosity stems mostly from an extreme scepticism of subsidizing a market sector to help it take-off. This is against the dogma of purist capitalism.
Søren Pind himself prefers to call himself minister of freedom rather than of development aid.
“I fundamentally believe that the most important thing is economic freedom, because then follows political freedom.
If I see the political attitude in a country being against change on the private market or on the property law, then we are really talking about a government that just want us to support its social institutions, and I can not see any perspective in that.”
Pind has previously announced his intention to halt aid to South American countries. However, this was done to Bolivia this weekend without political arguments – only reference to the fact that Bolivia didn't sign the Copenhagen Accord. Apparently absurd since Bolivia didn't join the accord in protest it was too weak.
I have a hunch the Danish government would draw my illustration with the Free Market in the centre, not climate change. Curiously in discordance with the recent admissions of Bill Clinton that the free market inspired “aid” of his time has been counter productive.
(Sources include: In Danish Information.dk / Dansk ja til opførelse af kulkraftværk and Når en frihedsminister skal prioritere and in English from Reuters U.S., Denmark cut climate aid after summit: Bolivia)