Lessons learnt from the not-so-radical Tyndall emissions conference

Several Feasta climate group members attended the Tyndall Radical Emissions Reduction conference in December 2013. Three of them – Nick Bardsley, Brian Davey and Laurence Matthews – have shared their reactions to the way the conference was organised. You can also download posters that were displayed at the conference by John Jopling, Nick Bardsley and Brian Davey.

Nick Bardsley comments that “growth-oriented societies will quickly negate any carbon gain from technological innovation, or for that matter behavioural change or improvements at the workplace, as these free up energy-dense fossil fuel resources for other uses. The failure to address this [at the conference] was lamentable, despite this and similar conferences being good places to meet like-minded people.”

Brian Davey writes “The way one organises things carries an implicit message. In the case of this conference the message profoundly undermines the spirit of grassroots democracy: a spirit that, quite apart from its intrinsic worth, also happens to be essential to any effective action on climate change.” He goes on to propose an alternative way to organise such a conference.

Laurence Matthews writes “It’s easy to criticise, and it’s good that the conference happened at all. […] But we have to be serious; time is too short to mess about. We must not settle for some form of greenwash which tries to appropriate the word ‘radical’ without meaning it.”

Nick Bardsley and Brian Davey’s poster is entitled ‘The Alternative to Austerity: Radical Emissions Reductions through Degrowth’ and provides a useful run-through of alternatives to ‘carbon development’, including in the Global South. Banking system reform, a Land Value Tax, Cap and Share and changes in values, culture and community living would all play a role.

John Jopling’s poster is on the potential role that a Global Climate Commons Trust could play. He writes “although nation-state governments are the only governments we have at the moment, they are not designed to address global problems like climate change. We should give up expecting them to do so. Ordinary people, through their local communities and NGOs, the Global Community, though apparently powerless, are in fact the natural power base for establishing the necessary globally effective climate regime.

Laurence Matthew’s poster examines the psychological framing of radical emission reductions, exploring ways in which the framing of climate change discourse can obscure possible ways forward.

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.