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Why “Green” Initiatives Often Hurt the Poorest

Green Initiatives Hurt the Poorest

Haarjeev Kandhari, Chairman at UK-based retreader Vaculug, discusses who should bear the biggest burden when it comes to instigating green initiatives.

Real Green Initiatives Should Target Those Who Can Instigate the Greatest Change

Whilst we can all agree that big change needs to happen if we are to protect the planet for future generations, we must be careful about who ends up paying the price for so-called green initiatives’. The average person is told to consume less while paying more for basic necessities such as food and electricity, as real wages and subsequently the standard of living declines.

The problem is that green policies often disproportionately affect the poorest and most disenfranchised sections of society, and target developing countries that have arguably already been destabilised as a result of Western greed.

It’s very easy to tell people to ‘make do with less’ when you’ve got no idea what it’s like to go without in the first place. Would billionaire philanthropists be so quick to preach about energy consumption and climate change if they didn’t know how they were going to feed their children and heat their homes in the months ahead?

Reducing the standard of living in order to ‘save the planet’ may seem like a small price to pay for the affluent living in Europe and America, but it becomes a question of basic survival for the poorest sections of society.

My question is, why is the onus always put on everyday working people, rather than those who are in a position to instigate real change? And why should developing countries, with already fragile economies, pay for the environmental problems created, in large part, by the Western obsession with overconsumption?

This is because of the Golden Rule! What is the Golden Rule? Is it  from the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” No it is not! The Golden Rule is – He who has the Gold makes the Rules! 

And so the green policies currently favoured by Western governments vastly increase their profit margins, whilst hitting the poorest people in the pocket. They allow big corporations to appear morally and socially conscious, when the reality is anything but. Because whilst the West preaches about climate change and positions itself as a virtuous defender of the environment, it continues to pollute the planet with impunity.

Therefore, is it really any surprise that Western governments are so quick to champion green policies that make them look good, don’t affect their bottom line, and sees the poorest countries paying for the consequences of their actions?

The fact is that the transition to greener energy and more environmentally sustainable business practices is a noble and worthy goal. But purposefully driving up the cost of energy and other basic necessities, when millions of people all across the globe are already struggling to make ends meet, is a mercenary approach to a serious issue.

Addressing the issue of climate change requires research, adaptability and long-term innovation that makes green energy accessible and, just as importantly, affordable to all.

But real green initiatives should target those who can instigate the greatest change, and that’s not the average working person. Of course, we can all individually ‘do our bit’, but those with the biggest responsibility are those who consume the most, namely the West and the big corporations. So, the question is, how and when do we start holding them to account?

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