A special report
On Wednesday May 1 2019 the UK Parliament declared a “climate emergency”.
Extinction Rebellion and its supporters were, needless to say, cock-a-hoop.
Their big London protest-cum-lobby had achieved one of their main demands.
After four centuries of rapacious, violent, militaristic capitalism, the British state had miraculously changed course towards a new and fluffy future.
And all because of people partying in the streets of London and smiling at the police.
A certain gloating tone had crept into XR’s communications even before the official announcement was made.
“Despite the active opposition by the established climate activist groups, the left and the big NGOs, look at what #ExtinctionRebellion has achieved” they tweeted.
Eh? What? Active opposition from whom?
[UPDATE MAY 4. XR SEEM TO HAVE NOW DELETED THE TWEET]
For many of us, XR’s moment of triumph seems less like the end of one phase of environmental campaigning than the beginning of a new one, of vast dimensions.
When XR launched their sister XR Business site on Easter Monday, they opened the eyes of thousands of people to something a little odd about their organisation.
Delaunching it two days later, because of the backlash, couldn’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.
All over the place, people are now catching up with Cory Morningstar’s detailed exposés of the climate change lobby and reaching their own conclusions.
A collective probing behind the scenes of the XR spectacle is unearthing more and more inconvenient truths.
Take, for instance, this article from 2016 by John Elkington, which has been drawn to our attention.
Elkington, alongside Volans Ventures Ltd colleague Louise Kjellerup Roper, is one of the XR “business leaders” featured on the missing website and in the XR Business letter to The Times.
He is also involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.
The article is entitled “Tomorrow’s Business Models will be X-rated” and the letter X is a theme which runs through the whole text.
Elkington starts off talking about the California Gold Rush but adds: “The latest rush — in pursuit of exponential opportunities, or ‘X’ — feels even more seismic. The deeper I dig, the more potential opportunities surface to transform capitalism, markets and business in pursuit of sustainable development”.
Strangely for a supporter of environmentalism, Elkington boasts that he has been “accumulating air miles at an almost exponential rate”.
One of his many jet-set missions was to “Google’s X facility, the self-styled ‘Moonshot Factory'”, he explains.
“When visiting X last week, I was fascinated to see robotic arms, futuristic model aircraft dangling from the high ceilings (they have colonized an old shopping mall) and the sort of radar scanner used to guide autonomous cars.
“But my theme here is less the technology than the business models that are helping turn new technology into viable businesses — especially businesses that can help drive progress towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.
Talking about the “Sustainability X agenda”, Elkington calls for a radical reinvention of what he charmingly calls the “Sustainability Industry”.
The Volans boss writes: “As leaders learn to ‘Think Sustainably,’ they will also need to learn to ‘Think X,’ shorthand for ‘Think Exponential’.
“In the same way that they once looked to activists and social entrepreneurs for evidence of where markets were headed, they must now engage a very different set of players.
“These new players are not happy with 1% or even 10% year-on-year improvements, instead pushing towards 10X — or 10-fold — improvements over time”.
This last sentence is worth reading again.
“The X agenda”. “Sustainablity X”. “X-rated” business models. Massive profits. Spiralling economic growth.
If Think X is shorthand for Think Exponential, as this XR Business Leader insists, what does XR actually stand for?
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