'Labour MP Colin Challen, who retires at the next general election to spend more time saving the planet from climate change, has written a very pessimistic new book on his experiences as a politician in trying to bring some urgency, rationality and sustainability to energy policy. Despite its pessimism, Too Little, Too Late is well worth reading. Early on Challen writes wryly: 'climate change means that politicians have to submit their long cherished beliefs to a challenging examination.' The author himself, however, is personally blameless, as he has long lived a life bounded by beliefs that many others will have to take on if we are not to meet ecological disaster. Launching his book at a parliamentary event, he re-iterated that 'there is insufficient political understanding of the problem, and the solution.' Recalling a curtailed meeting he had with an anonymous Labour minister, he said the ministerial message was 'don't frighten the horses.' Challen himself argues that elected politicians need to level with the electorate, and 'prick the hubris' of political parties whose policies make things worse. The key for Challen is human behavioural change, not treaties or financial instruments - such as carbon credits - so beloved of policy makers and shakers. And why, he asks plaintively, can't the same money made available to recapitalise the banks be made available for sustainable technologies? Challen former US vice president Al Gore's question, to a climate change rally in July 2008: 'Am I the only one,' he asked, 'who finds it strange that our government so often adopts a so-called solution that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem it is supposed to address?' The elected President Obama luckily is asking the right questions (see story page 8). Challen bravely asks many awkward questions in his book, which is an antidote to the deniers of climate crisis. Read it.' --20SustainableBuilding, February 2009
From the Publisher
Colin Challen is that rare animal: a brave, intelligent, parliamentarian who seeks no patronage. It takes courage to challenge your own government, let alone point out to the public, during a recession (!), the steps individuals must take if climate change catastrophe is to be avoided. This, however, is what he does in his book which Picnic publishes with pride. Given his challenge to Government, I suspect Prime Minister Gordon Brown may rue the day he remarked in the House of Commons of Colin: 'I know that my hon. Friend is an expert on these matters'. Yes, Colin is. This is why what he says must be taken seriously. Tony Blair, when Prime Minister, also recognised Colin's tireless efforts: 'I thank my hon.Friend for all the work that he has done in relation to climate change.' Colin does not want thanks but action. Before it is too late . . .