It's Climate Week, and Tony Blair wants everyone to start agitating. Exuding that wide-smiling, affable aura of his, Britain's ex-PM took the podium at the also-tony Morgan Library for the event's opening ceremony. He was in high spirits.
"I've been spending a lot of time about the middle east," Blair said. "So it's a great relief to be talking about climate change — something easy, resolvable." The crowd chuckled.
He said it's about time that the United States got serious about leading that clean energy revolution. The message was a familiar one, loaded with the kind of let's-solve-climate-change boilerplate that should be all but cliche to everyone except Americans (whose Serious Media regards any climate talk as all activisty):
"Driving this clean revolution here and elsewhere is massively in our self interest," Blair said. Because of climate change, because it's a smart idea to have a diversity in our energy supply, and because it will make us a lot of money. And that's the theme and tagline of Climate Week this year: 'An American Clean Energy Revolution — Why the US should play to win on the clean energy economy'. It's an old message (speaking in news cycle-years) but it's mostly right, as long as nobody drones on about China stealing our jobs and defeating America with our own technology too much.
"The truth of it was that in those early years, the focus was international treaties and negotiations." But that didn't work. And it isn't working. "We realized that we had to start mobilizing civic society and businesses," he said. And now "There is an immense amount of activity going on at the state level, city level, and at the business level."
Okay, but still not good enough. We still need to get some kind of serious global treaty inked and signed, yeah, but anyone with a working conception of reality knows that's not going to happen as long as the US Congress is in thrall to scientifically illiterate bonzos. Or even after.
"It may well be that in the end, it's not governments but a bottom-up revolution of businesses, states, cities and consumers, a clean revolution is going to drive forward a solution to climate change," he said.
So no pitchforks in the street. But state and city climate ordinances laying the groundwork, and climate conscious businesses helping to redirect the flow of capital away from fossil fueled-stasis. And good eco-friendly consumers. Or maybe pitchforks.
"We will all continue agitating for solutions," he said, choosing language more common to labor organizers than business conference attendees. Then again, he's British, and their verbiage is weird. Either way, if I've got this right, the message is: people who hold stations of power like the one he did can't or won't cut it on the climate problem, so maybe the humbler, less-powerful institutions of the world can do it instead. Get to prodding, people.