Book review: Negotiating climate change: Radical democracy & the illusion of consensus
Negotiating climate change: Radical democracy & the illusion of consensus
Amanda Machin / Zed Books / Paperback / £18.99 / ISBN: 978–1–78032–397–8
Amanda Machin’s short and fascinating book builds on recent debates highlighting the ways that people understand what we mean by climate change – depending on their education, faith and values, and where they live and what they do.
The core of the book is a rebuttal of four types of response to climate change: the technology optimists – whose ‘magical’ solutions may be counterproductive by encouraging self-interested behaviour; those who clamour for a change in our individual ethical values – but cannot explain how harmonious decisions will be achieved; those who desire a green community – but do not explain how to decide what counts as the common good; and the deliberative democrats who seek new forms of decision making – but do not see that better-informed citizens may disagree on action.
Machin’s conclusion is that we should encourage the environment to be seen as a place for disagreement. From the unavoidable clashes of opinion brought by climate change will come more decisive solutions; it is by acknowledging the need for debate that decisions will have more legitimacy and impact, even if there is no guarantee that these will always be palatable to the green advocate.
This is a book about political science and does not pretend to scan the range of potential policy solutions to climate change. Nor indeed does it say how one should think about positioning the power of scientific evidence in a way that could be credible or convincing to different audiences; and that, while somewhat frustrating, is perhaps the point: you have to think about it and argue about it.
Mike Peirce is deputy director at the University of Cambridge’s programme for sustainability leadership.
The UK government has been “too city-focused” in its climate action and must provide more funding and support to reduce emissions in rural areas, the County Councils Network (CCN) has said.
In 2021, the World Economic Forum identified extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage as being among the most likely risks of the next 10 years.
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
The UK's largest defined benefit (DB) pension schemes have received a letter from the Make My Money Matter campaign urging them to set net-zero emission targets ahead of the COP26 climate summit later this year.