Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Referendum for Climate Change?

Many people I know have been complaining about how governments around the world are not doing enough to address climate change, and how Western democratic systems have not adequately met the challenge.

Whilst I am not unsympathetic to their concerns, I really think the issue should be addressed through democratic consensus. This is because climate change can only be addressed through collective action, and if you believe strongly in liberty and democracy, you realise that collective action must only come through a strong democratic mandate. In fact, when climate action is implemented without a clear democratic mandate, you get what has happened in Australia recently - the tearing down of whatever achievement made, plus the election of a government that is detrimental on many other fronts too.

Therefore, any future climate action must have a clear democratic mandate. How do we establish this? A referendum may be a suitable vehicle, I suggest. We can have a clear campaign on the issue at hand without other aspects of politics interfering, and a resounding 'yes' will provide ongoing legitimacy to climate action. Of course, many governments are not interested in referendums. However, that does not prevent interested people in campaigning for one to be held. Better still, we could institute a citizen initiated referendum system once and for all.