The EU set new limits for the second phase of its carbon trading scheme today. The allowances set are to an average of 7% below the figures proposed by member states – which is a welcome strengthening of the commitment to cut carbon emissions. James Cameron suggested that today’s decision could be “one the most important decisions about the planet’s future for years to come”.
But others have commented that the cuts as they stand, which only affect some of the heavy carbon producing industries in only some EU countries, will have little impact in the face of the steadily increasing global carbon emissions. And if the cuts are too severe then UK and other EU industries will suffer, become uncompetitive, and lose out to their global competitors who don’t have such strict environmental legislation. So why bother?
You have to recognise that this is a valid argument. But then why should we bother with anything if we have to take the lead and suffer for it in some small way? It would be perfectly reasonable to only make a move when you could enjoy an immediate benefit, or when all the pain has been borne by the others who did make the first move. But if everyone kept to this logic, what would we be without? And if we keep to it about climate change, we could well be without a reasonably habitable world before long. As a Christian I believe that God did ‘bother’ about us, and I’m so glad he did.
But enough pointing fingers at others. What about me? – and you! I also watched ‘Newsnight’ the other day, where a reported explained how he had ‘given up’ the family car for 6 months at his producer’s insistence. In these 6 months he discovered they didn’t actually need it except for a few weeks of family holidays each year. Although having no car caused some inconvenience, they generally didn’t miss it. Combining this with a commitment to only fly rarely, they reduced their family’s ‘carbon emissions’ by over 70% I think. And change for environmental good isn’t the only area where ‘why bother?’ comes in. What areas are there where I feel I can’t be bothered because, well what difference will my action make in the grand scheme of things? And it’s just too inconvenient. Will I bother …?