Where’s ‘sustainable living’ at Copenhagen?
In the cut and thrust of the tangled international climate negotiations being witnessed at Copenhagen, it’s interesting to see which ideas are being discussed seriously by governments and which ideas are being left outside in the cold.
Currently ‘allowed’ ideas include REDD, carbon markets and financing and technology transfers to developing countries, amongst other topics.
Less welcome ideas include sustainable living and how governments can help people to have a less destructive impact on the environment, including not just carbon emissions but also sky-rocketing consumption and population levels and our devastating effects on other species.
‘Allowed’ ideas have a techno-managerial aura to them. They sound external, quantifiable and controllable. But they are not too close to be considered embarrassing to governments. (Actually, they make delegations sound more powerful than they really are.)
Less welcome ideas – like sustainable living and consumption and population levels – are more threatening. They are more personal and seem to hold up an often unflattering mirror to how we live and trade.
Sustainable living can make us look silly and, not surprisingly, the relatively privileged world of international diplomacy may not ready for this.
So Copenhagen is staying on the relatively safe ground of carbon emissions.
But don’t despair. Think of carbon as opening a door into a new dialogue on sustainable living which is yet to come.
– By Karl Hansen. Karl worked for the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development before joining the Living Rainforest.
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