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Blair’s King Canute Climate Change Act 15 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Environment, Labour.

King Canute strode out towards the sea somewhere along the English coast, arms wide and decried in loud tone “the tide shall not cometh back” – or words to that effect anyway. Shortly later Canute was neck deep in the big blue wet thing known as the sea, presumably red faced had it not been Britain, where the sea never rises above ‘mildly cool’ and the wind is always ‘bracing’.


I’ve always felt sorry for Canute, he only did it to prove he was not almighty and powerful to his sycophantic court of yes men, yet this act of modesty has been twisted into one of arrogance, as if Canute really believed – like his court – that he could stop the sea. It might even be all made up, a kind of sneer smear by an author, journalist or tourist board looking to profit out of Canute tourism. I suppose at least his sea had plenty of cod fish stocks, the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy being some 940-ish years away, but that’s little compensation for being wrote into history as a person so arrogant about his powers he tried to stop the tide.


But one person I do not feel sorry for is Tony Blair. Tony Blair strode out towards the dispatch box somewhere along the House of Commons, arms wide in irritating hand gestures and decried in trendy vicar like tone “the CO2 emissions shall be cut by 60% by 2050, this be legally binding” – or words to that effect anyway. Whom this act is legally binding upon I don’t know. I don’t think the environment can be taken to court, nor can the entire country, which includes the legal system itself. Blair will be 97 by 2050, and can hardly be responsible for future government failings. But then the government in 2050 can’t be responsible for past government failings can it? And we can’t trial every government minister to have served between 2007 and 2050, can we? And what’s the sentencing guideline?


So basically – as Canute was trying to show us – we cannot legislate away CO2, just as we can’t sadly legislate for good weather or for all people to be nice or the tide to stop coming in. The Climate Change Act – like the 20% EU CO2 cutting target and the King Canute Prohibition of Inward Coming Tidal Waters Act 1030AD(ish) – don’t actually achieve anything. They’re just talk, and talk’s cheap.



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