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Has Climate Week been compromised by teaming up with RBS?

Tony Juniper
Aerogenerator1 300x293 Has Climate Week been compromised by teaming up with RBS?

The Aerogenerator which won best Technological Breakthrough in the Climate Week Awards. This is a new wind turbine design which will generate more than double the power of existing wind turbines.

Climate Week has come under attack for linking up with the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS has very substantial investments in the fossil fuel economy with its financing for coal and gas attracting justifiable attacks. I am a supporter of Climate Week and have also supported the campaign to change RBS’s policies.

Even though RBS is a part of the fossil fuel problem, it is in my opinion a mistake to attack Climate Week for making a sponsorship deal with it.

With the honourable exception of organisations like the Co-Op and Triodos, our financial system is mainly clueless when it comes to promoting an ecologically sustainable future. Banks back corporates and projects in all kinds of unsustainable activities. The question for me at this late stage in averting what looks like an unfolding climatic catastrophe is not so much whether our financial system (including most banks) is part of the problem, it is much more one of how are we going to change everything very quickly.

Having thought about this quite a lot, I have come to the conclusion that two things we must do are raise popular awareness and influence culture in relation to what this all means. The climate change challenge, and all the other things linked to it, from halting deforestation to the decarbonisation of energy, will require changes that cannot be done without support from the public, including in how we consume. People need to be part of the solution. They have to want to change.

We climate campaigners have not done well on these priorities. The scientific case is made. The political speeches are on the record. In the UK we even have a Climate Change Act which requires an 80 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Yet for many the issue remains remote and irrelevant. Most people don’t know what to do, or how to do it. It is still not normal for most people to think low carbon, not on the scale needed. It simply has not become part of our popular culture. It is still a niche interest.

Climate Week, along with 10:10, Start, Global Cool and a few others, is among a band of micro organisations that have undertaken the mammoth task of trying to raise popular awareness and support for the big changes needed. They are all making progress with Climate Week’s first outing achieving a huge impact at ground level in homes, schools, communities and businesses right across the country.

But is the message fatally compromised through an association with RBS? I don’t think so. No matter how pure Climate Week might be, this controversy has revealed the deep tension at the heart of our predicament. We inhabit and economic system that is embarked on a course toward ecological suicide. There is no shortage of science, logic or moral arguments as to why it must change: what is lacking is popular demand. It seems to me that the gains being made by Climate Week in mobilising that far outweigh the risk that its association with RBS will somehow strengthen and sustain the fossil fuel economy.

Climate Week could have chosen to have no corporate sponsors. But then it would have done a lot less too. While RBS is a sensible pressure point for campaigners, in my opinion Climate Week is not. Let’s by all means focus the heat on banks, but let’s not undermine the very few organised efforts that are changing how people think.

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  • http://twitter.com/PlatformLondon PLATFORM

    Tony – firstly, people have been at pains in terms of messaging saying the the criticisms are focussed at RBS sponsorship and not at Climate Week.

    Secondly, it’s a strawman argument to say, “Climate Week could have had no corporate sponsors” – the criticism wasn’t about having corporate sponsors per se, just about having ones that are in practice actively undermining what the whole point of Climate Week is.

    In terms of the need for ‘popular demand’ – yes, I completely agree, but there is also the question of trying to avoid pitting popular demands in opposition to each other – so when you have 800 people camping at RBS HQ the Summer before trying to get the bank to stop trashing the climate, you have a pre-existing, articulated popular demand on climate change. For another climate initiative to then allow RBS to attempt to greenwash itself against that popular demand without taking any substantive climate action, that is already from the start undermining the popular demand.

    The report, ‘Dirty Money – Corporate greenwash and RBS coal finance’ can be downloaded from here: http://blog.platformlondon.org/content/new-report-released-today-rbs-coal-finance-launch-day-rbs-sponsored-climate-week

  • edzuiderwijk

    Have I missed something? Should it not be the other way around?

    Shouldn’t the RBS have come under attack for sponsoring “Climate Week”? Shouldn’t they sort out their own problems first before bestowing other people’s money on causes which many may not even agree with?

  • http://twitter.com/Rustigjongens joseph sanderson

    Climate Week has been compromised by exagerated claims made by climate activists, compromised by the weather not behaving as climate scientists predicted, compromised by lies by Mann et al.

  • mememine

    Political Support Has Gone For Climate Change:
    President Obama completely ignored the climate change crisis in his State of the Union Address and has not responded to the IPCC being cut off from it’s American main funding, by the neocons majority. Carbon mitigation steps have all been cancelled also. Politicians knew 25 more years of climate control was unsustainable. What lasted longer, witch burning or climate control?

    Scientific Consensus Has Gone:
    If unstoppable warming (death of the planet) were true, the scientists would be marching in the streets in alarm and criticizing the politicians openly for bailing on the scientific CO2 mitigation (taxes) the scientists say we need to save the planet. If this unstoppable warming crisis were true, these scientists would be on cereal boxes and CNN. They couldn’t even act like it was a crisis. And our suspicions have come true about why there were more consensus scientists than protesters. Do the math.
    The scientists say we humans are contributing less CO2 thanks to the world economy yet global CO2 levels continue to rise? Just like the “scientists” who produced cruise missiles, cancer causing chemicals, land mine technology, nuclear weapons, germ warfare, cluster bombs, strip mining technology, Y2K, Y2Kyoto, deep sea drilling technology and now climate change?

    Media Support Has Gone:
    One would think the corporate media outlets (climate change blood), would back off of the CO2 blunder slowly but no, they went straight to humor and making fun of climate change. Every media outlet, even the NEW YORK TIMES has had at least a few light hearted and comical essays or absurd dooms day predictions to make fun of climate control. How cynical can media be? We should have seen this coming.

    Voter Support Has Vanished:
    Although politely avoided at parties, climate change is not something any reasonable person would now days vote YES to, for taxing the air to make the weather colder.
    Real planet lovers and progressives were happy about a crisis being avoided! The rest of you?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/IJLEWR4HKHPXZ43WDECUKSVHO4 David Cage

    What month of the 100 months are we in now? Is it 25 or thereabouts? Of course support is declining as now only the totally blind are in denial of the reality that climate science has screwed up in a big way. The rate of change of temperature should by now have doubled over that in 2008 at a very minimum but is has significantly slowed down even using data from the network that is statistically unsound, as shown by McKitric’s study into the temperature collection sites .
    On top of that we are seeing that there are other interpretations of the same statistical data done by those who specialise in it and are in spite of the claims for total belief in AGW are supported within the climate science fraternity. Interpretations that are backed up by techniques from other sources like engineering and marketing which have similar needs to extract trends from noisy data.


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