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THE MOVEMENT

T H E P O L I T I C A L V I S I O N A R Y : C A R O L I N E L U C A S

C a ro l in e Lucas is G r e e n Party MEP f o r South-East England, V ice -P re s id en t o f th e R S PCA and S t o p th e W a r Coalition, a National C ou n c i l m e m b e r o f th e Cam paign f o r N u c le a r D isa rm am en t and a D ir e c t o r o f th e International F orum o n G lobalization . She has w o r k e d as a Policy A d v is e r f o r O x fa m , and has published w id e ly o n globalisation and en v ir onm en t issues.

LOW-CARBON FUTURE No m o re com p rom ise : I say w e n e ed Greens in governm en ts NOW!

FORTYYEARS FROM now , s o c i e ty is u n r e c o g n is a b le . The c o n s e q u e n c e s o f g lo ba l c l i m a te ch a n g e and sw eep in g dem ocratisa t ion and lo calisa tion have ch a n g ed a lm ost every aspect o f ou r lives, f r om w h e r e and h o w w e live and w o rk to the f o o d w e eat and the way w e sp end o u r leisure tim e.

It’s 2 0 4 6 , and a G reen Party g o v e rn m en t has b e en r e -e le cted in the UK — jo in in g th ose in p ow e r across m u c h o f the EU. The Prim e M in ister gives her a c c e p ta n c e s p e e ch in the capital, B irm in gham . (T h e seat o f g overnm en t m o v e d n o rth a few years back, to an area in n e e d o f urban regeneration, after r is in g sea levels rep ea ted ly b rea ch ed the Thames barrier, f lo o d in g m u c h o f W estm inster and renderin g it unsafe.)

The U N ’s revised tu rn-of-th e -century call fo r an 8 0% cut in g lo ba l g reen h ou s e -g a s em ission s b y 2 0 5 0 was met f iv e years ago, thanks largely to the sharp escalation in fo ss i l - fu e l p r ice s as peak o i l t o o k h o ld in 2 0 1 2 . This fu el crisis d rove sw eep in g im p rovem en ts in e n e rg y c o n s e r v a t io n , ren ew ab le generation, and the free transfer o f t e c h n o lo g y to the d e v e lo p in g w o r ld as e c o -a id adm in istered b y a r e fo rm ed , d em o c ra t ic UN (w h i c h celebrated its centenary last y e a r ) .

O u r c om m u n i t ie s are safer: w e live in w e l l - d e s ig n e d , in su la ted , w a rm h o m e s , eat m o r e l o c a l l y g r o w n , o r g a n ic f o o d , e n jo y greater security, are healthier and liv e lon ger. Few o f us d r iv e a car any m o r e : s in ce o i l p r i c e s esca la ted m o s t o f us have sw i t ch e d to trams and trains, creatin g the cash to d r iv e the UK ’s b ig g e s t s in g le in vestm ent in p u b l i c transport in frastructure.

PERHAPS THIS IS naive in its u n b r i d le d o p t im ism . Perhaps w e ’ ll m iss o u r C 0 2- r e d u c t io n targets, fo r g o t t e n in a w o r ld o f c o n f l i c t ov e r ever scarcer dw in d l in g reserves o f o i l . The UN c o u ld stagnate further, in the face o f in creasin g ly unilateralist US and UK g overnm en ts - China and India c o u ld retreat in to war over e c o n o m i c d o m i nance o f a r e g io n racked by starvation and disease as its r ich get r ich e r and its p o o r poorer.

The fu ture is in o u r hands. It is b e c om in g in creasingly clear that the n ext fo r ty years w i l l b e the m o s t c ru c ia l p e r i o d in the h i s t o r y o f hum ankind. In clim ate ch a n g e w e face ou r b ig g e st ever challenge to life as w e k n ow it: the d ecision s w e make over the next fo r ty years m ig h t determ in e the very survival o f o u r species. N o w is a critical m om e n t to re fle ct o n the lessons o f the last fo r ty years.

Forty years ago there was n o green m o v em en t in the UK —let a lon e in ternationally - that w e w o u l d re co g n is e today. The C am pa ig n f o r N u c le a r D isarm am ent (CN D ) had b e e n f o rm e d e ig h t years earlier, and W W F in 19 6 1 , but Greenpeace, Friends o f the Earth and even the Green Party w o u l d n ’t em e rg e fo r another fe w years.

The politica l con text was hostile to environm en ta lism , and even r evolu tion a ry v o ic e s like Rachel C a rson ’s w e r e d r o w n e d o u t o f m a in stream p u b l i c d is cou rse — but the steady f l o w o f n ew in fo rm a t io n about the im pact o f ou r lives o n the w o r ld a round us le d thousands to ch a n g e their lives, take d ir e c t e n v ir o nm e n ta l a c t io n , e x p lo r e n ew t e c h n o lo g ie s and socia l m o d e ls and jo in l ik e -m in d e d p e op le . O ver the years, Resurgence has to ld many o f their stories.

But the nascent g reen m o v em en t in the UK and US, and later, in ternationally, was d ep o l it ic is ed f r om the start. Campaigns to alleviate poverty, stop war, save endangered species o r bu ild sustainable c om m u n it ie s f lo u r ish ed o u t side the realms o f electoral dem ocracy. As n o n -g o v e r n m e n ta l organisation s (N GO s ) shaped particular campaigns, they sou g h t , and som e t im e s w o n , su p p o r t f r om ex is t in g p o l i t ic a l parties (w h o w e re naturally su sp ic iou s o f any a ttem p t b y G reens to w in p ow e r th em s e lv e s ) .

Green parties began contesting e le c tions in the 1970s (th e Australian Green Party was the first, in 1972, w ith the UK Greens’ p redecessor People in 1 9 7 4 ) . However, w ith ou t the explicit support o f the NGOs and the w id e r green m ovem en t , and o ften v ilifie d as advocates o f ‘ hair-sh ir t a s ce t ic ism ’ , they fa iled to make m u c h electoral mark until 1981 , w h e n n in e m em bers entered the Belgian parliam ent and — w ith even greater fanfare - tw o years later w h e n tw en ty -e ig h t m em b e rs o f Die Griinen w e re e le cted to the G erm an Bundestag.

I c on fe ss I r em em b e r these events on ly dimly. In the early 1980s, I was graduating f r om p oe t ry to the peace

1 2 Resurgence No. 238 September/October 2006

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