Tuesday, 28 September 2010

William Hague, Eco-warrior

Ed Miliband's speech to the Labour conference was vacuous in content and deathly dull in delivery. But it's inevitably today's big news story. By contrast, EU Referendum points out the lack of attention being paid to a possibly far more important speech delivered yesterday by William Hague to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. In it Hague lays out that supreme importance the British government apparently attaches to tackling global warming, and comes up with a new phrase, "climate security", to describe the Godlike ambition of bending the planet's climatic system to the will of international politicians. From "climate security", all other securities - food security, energy security, political security, security - will naturally follow.

That large-scale climatic events - desertification, for example - have a major political impact is undeniable. Climate is one of the main motors of history. However, achieving "climate security", a state in which the climate doesn't change, or at least not enough to disrupt the global status quo, is impossible. To suggest that it is represents an expression of hubris so monumentally deranged we would be questioning his sanity were it not also now a commonplace of international affairs.

William Hague (who, aged sixteen, famously expressed the desire to "get government off people's backs") certainly displays the zeal of a convert. He also makes the interesting, if somewhat controversial, claim that "the fundamental purpose of foreign policy is to shift the political debate." Hague-watchers will be intrigued to learn how warmly he speaks of the EU's role in achieving "climate security". Almost as warmly as he speaks of Chris Huhne, the anti-nuclear Lib Dem Engergy secretary. Perhaps the most amusing section, though, describes how Her Britannic Majesty's diplomatic corps have been made over as a regiment of climate-change bores:

All British Ambassadors carry the argument for a global low carbon transition in their breast pocket or their handbag. Climate change is part of their daily vocabulary, alongside the traditional themes of foreign policy. They are supported by our unique network of climate attachés throughout the world.

If this is true, I imagine at diplomatic receptions our ambassadors increasingly find themselves alone in a corner, stuffing their faces with Ferrero Rocher.