Political elites bad ambassadors of environmental change


The political elites are either the democratic or authoritarian faces of their States and they have jurisdiction over the areas where climate reforms are supposed to be taking place.

They are the nation, the people, the voice of reason and, in short, they are everything in one. To them, it is not the reasoning or the environment that matters most, but their sphere of influence or interests deeply rooted in wealth accumulation, hegemony and power addiction. Instead of ensuring that fossil fuels remain deeper under the ground, they make sure that it is the sustainable ideas that buried.

The current discourses of climate change, instead of helping transform the environmental landscape, have assisted in the reproduction and reshaping of the political agenda. The United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) currently under way in Paris, is going to blow close to a billion dollars just to sustain arguments in the absence of action. What the politicians are not telling us is that, the real problem of today’s overdose of carbon dioxide is yesterday’s carbon dioxide not tomorrow’s. Already India, which is a major emitter of greenhouse gases and a member of the Brics, is adamant that it cannot reduce anything since it is still developing.

While African leaders are pressing developed countries to fund their green energy programmes, China is busy decimating African forests at an alarming rate. The African leaders cannot see what they are condoning in their backyards because they no longer have any conscience or they have been sufficiently bribed by the Chinese. With the rate Africa is losing its forests through wanton destruction and degradation by the Chinese, it will sincerely regret its purported Look East policy.

The political gathering in Paris, composed of different political groups with differing ideologies, where conflicts, power struggles and varying interests are at stake, cannot be seen to be agreeing to anything tangible rather than pledges. If the political field is thoroughly ideological then so are its political discourses.

Green planet in your heart hands - usa - environment concept

What politicians from the developed countries are not telling us is that climate change is their new cash cow, hence they want to bribe the world with their green discourse and nascent manipulation of language for hegemonic purposes. From what they preach against the background of what they practice on the ground, it is clear that they are not yet ready to forego fossil fuel. They have crafted synergies with the media and its coverage helps prop their views. In the developing world, any communication strategy to raise public concerns and awareness about climate change must fall within the political thinking of the day. Even the available scientists, despite their relative autonomy, need to coalesce with the views of the government of the day rather than transgressing, even if it means articulating a doctrine of lies.

If climate change is human induced then we have not heard the political elites mourning the relationship between overpopulation and global warming. The more the population density, the more the depletion of natural resources. What we are always made to believe is that other countries are more climate sinners than our new-found friends, who are even worse carbon sinners of this century. One wonders if it is an act of desperation or grinding poverty that clouds our thinking. It has completely gone out of the most political elite’s heads that the blame game, othering and political messages have never succeeded anywhere. It is in the political arena that the climate battles are fought by those who are addicted and inebriated with excessive power and domination. The environment has been sacrificed for centuries and only divine intervention is needed to rescue us from this climate matrix.

Political polarisation has made it difficult for people to view climate change with appropriate environmental lenses. Political elites and pretenders do not allow environmentally sustainable arguments full of common sense without giving unjust labels. Since global warming has been overtaken by political machinations, consensus and compromise remain elusive.

Political elites from developing countries have never presided over successful policy entrepreneurship, as well as wining resources for their scientific field, as such they remain perennial underachievers and strangers to the truth. COP21 in Paris will nevertheless witness political solutions to environmental problems at the expense of purely environmental ones. It is currently a battle of guarding one’s political standpoint and space as well as ideological inclinations.

What is being foregrounded is being superseded by what is being backgrounded and normally the opaque becomes the truth. Even some normally reliable scientists have been co-opted into the political religious order, hence they now form a powerful self-
serving elite that does not tolerate dissent, while they manipulate and cook figures of global emission to mystify or scare the public.
Climate change issues have never been a top priority for the leaders in developing countries. Rarely would you hear them factoring climate change issues in their election manifestos and most talk about climate change when it matters most. During the days preceding the COP21 Paris conference, we were continuously being bombarded with climate change discourses from all directions, but watch them when the Paris conference is over, they will automatically go into voicemail. They will be resurrected when the next COP is around the corner. What a bad precedent and they are not doing their nationals any justice at all. With the course of time and the fast changing climatic environment we would want to see, who will be fooling who.

●Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com