Imaginative Approaches to Combating Climate Change Locally
Edited by Michael Peters, Shane Fudge and Tim Jackson
Ian Christie At the time of the Rio de Janeiro Summit on Environment and Development in 1992, the then US President George Bush Senior declared that whatever else was on the agenda, the American lifestyle was not up for negotiation. Although few other heads of state and political leaders in the rich world have made such uncompromising remarks about the untouchability of their domestic mode of consumerism, there has been huge reluctance among politicians and policy makers to contemplate ‘lifestyle change’ and any notion of limits to consumption in devising strategies to meet the enormous challenges posed by the risk of climate disruption, ecological breakdowns and depletion of key resources. The reasons for this are plain enough. First, the economy and culture of mass consumer affluence have been established in the West for half a century or more, and have been felt to ‘deliver the goods’ with unprecedented success. The idea that this enormously productive system might run up against ecological limits is deeply unwelcome, and one that is bound to be resisted by many. Policy makers and many citizens hold to a picture of the world, a seemingly robust one, in which new technologies will always come to the rescue, as they have flowed in profusion throughout living memory. Secondly, democratic political competition has been geared for decades to the idea that living standards and consumption can continue to rise indefinitely. There is no mainstream vehicle or ideology for articulation of any alternative ‘frame’ or paradigm for economic and...