Archbishop says "think green"

18 April 2005
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has "intervened in the [UK] election campaign", reports the Independent on Sunday, calling on voters to give politicians electoral incentives to tackle environmental issues.

Williams writes:

We have to return constantly to what sort of structures and sanctions might assist in making effective a change in our motivations and myths. We could imagine, for instance, a "charter" of rights in relation to the environment - that we should be able to live in a world that still had wilderness spaces, that still nurtured a balanced variety of species, that allowed us access to unpoisoned natural foodstuffs. It may be that the time is ripe for an attempt at a comprehensive statement of this, a new UN commitment - a "Charter of Rights to Natural Capital" to which governments could sign up and by which their own practice and that of the nations in whose economies they invested could be measured.

A manageable first step relating particularly to carbon emissions, supported by a wide coalition of concerned parties, is of course the "contraction and convergence" proposals initially developed by the Global Commons Institute in London. This involves granting to each nation a notional "entitlement to pollute" up to an agreed level that is credibly compatible with overall goals for managing and limiting atmospheric pollution. Those nations which exceed this level would have to pay pro rata charges on their excess emissions. The money thus raised would be put at the service of low-emission nations - or could presumably be ploughed back into poor but high-emission nations - who would be, so to speak, in credit as to their entitlements, so as to assist them in ecologically sustainable development.

Full text here.

Caspar Henderson

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