Why climate change is still the only game in town for friends of fair trade.
It's been a week of mixed news for climate change watchers. On Wednesday, the Guardian reported the grim news that CO2 had now passed the 400 parts-per-million mark - a technical way of saying that things are not going to get better in any of our lifetimes. Remember it's not so long ago that organisations like 350.org were launched with the express intention of getting CO2 below 350 ppm. That seems a long way away now.
Louise blogged last week about the impact that industrial farming can have on the environment, and it can sometimes seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Are we doomed to endure a slow decline into climate change-induced misery? It certainly doesn't have to be like that. The answer, to some extent, seems to be persuading our governments to be bolder in their pursuit of a sustainable energy policy.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (one of the few Telegraph journos not to induce an aneurysm in Rabbit Towers) writes today that increased competition is making offshore wind unfeasibly cheap. As in 60 Euros per megawatt hour for wind, versus 97 Euros per megawatt hour for our much loved (kidding) Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
The age old argument around renewables looks like it will rear its ugly head for another year or two - that the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. Well spotted, Sherlock. But it doesn't take more than a cursory glance at the advances made by Elon Musk at Tesla among a host of others in battery technology to realise that these problems are not insurmountable. With high-tech batteries in every home storing micro-generated wind and solar power the idea of the lights going out may become a historical relic. Of course, some things still require huge amounts of power. Like, er, the industrial agriculture industry. Which is where we came in.
And why should we - fair trade aficionados that we are? - be especially interested anyway? Because the one thing you can be sure of with climate change is that it will hit the poorest first, and hardest. By doing nothing we risk our fair trade purchases becoming little more than tokenism - buying a banana while allowing the banana fields to sink beneath sea level will not win us any ethical brownie points.
So here's this week's forecast - changeable, but with the possibility of sunshine later. Fair trade - and for that matter, all of our economic systems - are a subset of the environment. Without a healthy, thriving planet, our western "riches" count for nothing. Let's stand alongside our partners in the rest of the world in demanding action on climate change now.