Perhaps greens just aren’t the good guys
“Why should we sacrifice 10 per cent of our income today to make Bill Gates better off?” asked an MP. “As the world’s [second] richest man, he doesn’t need our sacrifice.”
The second richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is a proxy in this rhetorical question. The MP, a former Cabinet minister, is raising a fascinating and rarely asked moral question. Should we make ourselves poorer to save the rich of the future some insignificant amount of money: an amount so small, it will be a rounding error? The argument he builds is that government spending on climate policies is in fact a form of regressive wealth distribution. And the question the minister poses is far from rhetorical; it’s at the heart of the climate policy debate.
For an issue that is discussed in stark moral terms – good guys favour cutting carbon emissions, and bad guys don’t – things are not what they seem, suggests former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley. Poverty is the greatest killer on the planet, robbing societies of the ability to protect themselves, and look after their most vulnerable. A legacy of our obsession to cut carbon dioxide emissions aggressively may be to trap billions in poverty, and the avoidable suffering that goes with it.