In my previous post, I referred to the statement by Ieuan Wyn Jones on the transport grant settlement. Normal Mouth picks up on the same issue, although dealing more with the substance of the issue than the spin.
The idea put forward by Normal Mouth that the burden of reducing CO2 emissions should fall more heavily on the richest parts of the UK – even to the extent of off-setting any increases which are necessary to secure the development of the less well-off areas is an interesting one. It is, ultimately, a form of redistribution of wealth within the UK. It's an honest position to take, and a valid one, as long as the offsets actually occur.
And there’s the rub; with the UK and Welsh governments clearly well adrift from their targets for CO2 reductions, I simply don’t believe that the political will is likely to be forthcoming for the South East of England (which is the area that would ultimately have to pay the price) to take on the additional CO2 reductions which would be needed, or that they would hapen in the same timescales, such that there would be no overall net increase at any point in time. I find myself, therefore, closer to the position of FoE, which is that we have to seize every opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, and not shy away from the consequences of those decisions.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that rail can displace road, in a Welsh context, to the extent that FoE might wish – Normal Mouth makes some telling points on that issue. But fundamentally, the stance taken by FoE seems to me also to be an honest and valid one.
What is neither honest nor valid is to place the economic development needs higher than the environmental ones, with no attempt to negotiate corresponding additional CO2 cuts elsewhere, and then spin that as being something which it is not, i.e. an environmentally sound decision. Yet that is precisely what the Assembly government, and the deputy first minister in particular, have tried to do.
I said in my previous post that ‘green’ is a word with more than one meaning – so is ‘sustainable’. At its basest, politicians seem to interpret it as meaning nothing more than ‘whatever we can get away with’. As long as they believe that spin meets that definition, they will continue to use it.