But climate change denial is also about ideology. Many deniers have come to the conclusion that climate change is some kind of leftwing conspiracy – because the scale of the international public intervention necessary to cut carbon emissions in the time demanded by the science simply cannot be accommodated within the market-first, private enterprise framework they revere. As Joseph Bast, the president of the conservative US Heartland Institute told the writer and campaigner Naomi Klein: for the left, climate change is “the perfect thing”, a justification for doing everything it “wanted to do anyway”.
When it comes to the incompatibility of effective action of averting climate disaster with their own neoliberal ideology, the deniers are absolutely right. In the words of Nicholas Stern’s 2006 report, climate change is “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”.
The intervention, regulation, taxation, social ownership, redistribution and global co-operation needed to slash carbon emissions and build a sustainable economy for the future is clearly incompatible with a broken economic model based on untrammelled self-interest and the corporate free-for-all that created the crisis in the first place. Given the scale of the threat, the choice for the rest of us could not be more obvious.
If you actually bother to read the Stern Review you find that he recommends an intervention into market pricing, that carbon tax, and then leaving well alone as that works through the system. He does not recommend “intervention, regulation, …., social ownership, redistribution and global co-operation”. Nor does he recommend the abolition of capitalism, nor think that we have a broken economic model.
Which is, of course, why we neoliberals so despise people like Milne and Naomi Klein. Precisely because they are taking the science of what we should do about climate change and twisting it so that they do indeed get to impose their perversion of socialism onto the rest of us.