I caught an interesting event this morning with U.K. Foreign Minister David Miliband, who is in town to give a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the “democratization agenda.” The New American Foundation hosted the morning event with assorted policy wonks, journalists, and political types, and emcee Steve Clemons summarized it best as an attempt to answer the question of whether “the commitment of the West to liberal values, justice, healthy and balanced civil society, to human rights — can be salvaged from a decrepit and tarnished state in the post-Iraq War, post-Abu Ghraib, current-Guantanamo era we are in.”
Before serving as foreign secretary, Miliband was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In that post, he advocated giving individuals a “carbon credit card” to limit their personal emissions and pushed for tough emissions reductions targets for the country. He’s a smart dude, and young — just 43 years old. Oh, and he was the first British cabinet member to have a blog.
In his speech this morning, he tied together some of these bigger-picture questions of “democratization” with the climate crisis. He listed terrorism, global inequity, and climate changes as three of the biggest international insecurities today, and said that the “carbon crunch” is at the root of the world’s three biggest crises right now — fuel, food, and credit.
“High carbon dependence is driving up oil costs, which drives up gas costs, which in turn drives up food costs,” said Miliband. “If we can’t get on a lower carbon trajectory, then the conflicts that people fear over resources are a real danger.”
He was also adamant that leadership from the U.S. is necessary in avoiding that.
“The world needs American leadership — none of the big problems are going to be solved without the involvement of the United States,” he said.