IN THE light of yesterday’s news of an increase in the atmospheric gases believed responsible for climate change, there are those whose reaction will be a simple “I told you so”.
CO2 emissions from energy consumption have increased by 48 per cent since 1992, when the Rio Earth Summit took place. Campaigners argue it stands to reason, therefore, that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is also increasing.
To the average man and woman in the street, however, the news will come as a disappointment. In their day-to-day experience, the world is becoming a greener place. Respect for the environment is now part of our children’s education in a way unthinkable a generation ago. For most workplaces and households, recycling is now simply a part of how we live our lives.
We put greener fuel in our more carbon-efficient cars. We take account of energy efficiency when we buy white goods or electrical devices. We use energy-efficient light bulbs. Care is taken about little things, such as stand-by modes, that were previously on few people’s agendas.By act of will, or simply by osmosis, there is no doubt we have become more green.
How disappointing, therefore, that all that effort – all those small decisions that we make in the course of our daily lives in an attempt to make a difference – are seen to have no demonstrable effect at all.
Of course, there are very rational reasons why the positive behaviour of consumers can be more than offset by the negative actions of governments and corporations, particularly in emerging nations that do not yet enjoy the level of comfort we in the West take for granted.
But we must guard against a fatalistic conclusion being drawn from all this, and a feeling that, regardless of what we do as individuals, other powers on this planet will negate our small good works.
What is required is an appreciation this is actually a longer, deeper, more complex game than it might appear. What is required is an understanding that we need to live more in sympathy with the planet, and that we take due cognizance of what we burn, what we make and what we throw away, regardless of whether it can be empirically and specifically shown to be making a difference globally at this stage.
There are still arguments about whether climate change is actually taking place and further whether that change is man-made, but there is little doubt that the weight of scientific opnion falls in to the yes and yes camp. But in some ways that argument is not absolutely central to the way we live and our attitude to the resources we consume in doing so.
It is time we moved on to an accceptance that the more we do to improve sustainability the better it is for all, and to think how we shape the actions of individuals, corporations and politicians to a more sensible way of living.
Play the game, obey the rules
SIR David Murray is entitled to a moment of vindication after a tax tribunal ruled yesterday that payments made to players and staff at Rangers FC over a number of years when he was in charge of the club were within the law.
The judgment is a setback for HM Revenue and Customs, which had argued the payments were an illegal way for the employees and the club to avoid paying tax.
There will be those who continue to argue that the payments stretched the boundaries of
morality and were an attempt to avoid paying the tax that might be reasonably expected in the circumstances. These are legitimate questions. But what cannot now be said is that Rangers broke
Sir David’s critics are unlikely to be silenced by this decision, and their questions about his actions during its sale to Craig Whyte in May 2011 are likely to continue. There are also questions about whether Sir David – and other high-profile beneficiaries of the scheme – will now pay back the large amounts of money which, in the light of this decision, are now categorised as loans.
However, Sir David deserves support on one particular aspect of the tax wrangle, which became known as “the big tax case”. In a statement yesterday, his firm attacked the way “a substantial quantity of confidential information” leaked out from the tax tribunal’s deliberations. Various people involved in the Rangers saga used this information to advance their arguments and interests, often at Sir David’s expense.
The former Rangers chairman is not out of the spotlight of scrutiny yet, but he is right to ask whether this is a just and
equitable way to conduct a judicial process.