What Shade of Green is Best?
How do you recognise a Green policy?
If you sort your recyclables, eschew plastic bags and put on a woolly jumper instead of turning up the thermostat, is that being Green?
Kari McGregor in Australia suggests four significant categories of Green,[i] not mutually exclusive. They are Bright Green, Lite Green, Deep Green and Dark Green.
Bright Greens enthuse about the potential of the Green Economy, and promote technology and market-oriented innovations like carbon trading — Business Greens.
Lite Greens shop in the Green Economy, they go for ‘ethical consumption’, such as electric cars, ‘kind to the environment’ cleaning products,and cloth nappies for babies — Shopper Greens.
Deep Greens try to speed the coming of the Green Economy by blocking expansion of the Smokestack Economy, and aim to prevent activities like fracking which damage the environment. Deep Greens are ready to protest, regarding rough treatment and arrest as the price of their convictions — Stand Up and Be Counted Greens.
Dark Greens are resilience builders, preparing to live in a different world without long supply lines, just-in-time deliveries or much in the way of fossil fuels. They get on with creating a new economy by living it, and they don’t have much time for anything else because self-sufficiency is hard work. They are Pioneer Greens.
However different the priorities of these green tribes may be, Kari argues that it’s important for them all to collaborate. She says: “A danger with any movement is its potential to fragment into factions once it reaches a certain size – with the various factions competing instead of collaborating – and the potential emergence of a dominant faction that drowns out competing worldviews, theories of change, and tactics.” She proposes: “Through this tangled web of worldview, theory and practice there is a need to locate strands of commonalities that can be woven together…”[ii]
The bottom line is to stop devouring the fossil products of millions of years of solar energy. They will run out anyway, but we have the choice of arriving at a cliff edge and leaping off like lemmings, or of substituting renewables for one-use-only resources and also of putting the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions. Earth will still be here if it becomes as hot as Venus, but we won’t.Sometimes I think that fossil fuel billionaires fall into the trap of believing they can buy safety, but money on a dead planet is as much use as ice cream in a steaming sauna.
Politicians in traditional parties have an issue with sombre shades of Green. After all, which political party keen to be elected likes to promise substantially lower levels of material consumption? I can’t think of one. Parties have more time for Bright Business Greens and Lite Shopper Greens than the Deep and Dark shades.
Wales, uniquely in the UK, does have a planning regulation to assist Dark Pioneer Greens, the One Wales One Planet policy to foster new zero-carbon live-and-work land-based enterprises in the countryside, provided that applicants can meet tough criteria including providing at least 65% of their basic household needs from the land. Yet although the possibility exists with Welsh Government blessing, local planning officers and councillors have not exactly welcomed applications. And there is a big question: in a Dark Green system prioritising the local, where sustainability is replacing profit as the organising principle, from where comes the finance for investment in public services such education, health, transport, renewable energy projects and scientific research?
A policy picture coloured with a single green is too simplistic. Bright Green, Lite Green, Deep Green, Dark Green, all have a role in the creation of green policies …. maybe the slogan Better Together is correct in the case of the Colours Green!
[i] ‘The spectrum of a movement’ by Kari McGregor, www.generationalpha.org/shades-of-green/, October 8th 2014.
[ii] www.generationalpha.org/shades-of-green/, as above.