Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, has criticised rising levels of consumerism which he said has made it difficult for governments and societies to keep up with the demands of such a standard of living.
During his contribution yesterday to the debate on the Resolution for the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study, Sinckler said consumerism has resulted in several deficits, notably “between the governed and the government, deficits between the demands and the supplies, and deficits between the costs associated with providing that standard of living and the capacity of all of the agents within the society … to be able to sustain that quality of life”.
He pointed to the example of the energy sector, where according to him, over the last 50 years there has been a “disconnect” between the demands of a modern society and the provision of energy, particularly fossil fuel energy.
“In fact I believe two or three of the major recessions since the 1950s can be laid squarely at the feet of disruptions in oil production…We know that during those times and in between those times because of the demands of emerging economies such as India and China, that those have caused oil prices to skyrocket and elevate as the demand outstripped for some period of time, the supply, and the futuristic markets speculated about what would happen and drove up prices of oil,” Sinckler said.
“We love when the oil is flowing and coming to Barbados, and other countries love it because it helps sustain that driven consumerism … But we hate when it gets to a point where we can’t afford it, and we blame everybody for the problems which it throws upon us.”
The minister lamented that it was not until the last decade and a half, that there were steps towards a driven policy to transform economies in a manner which would pave the way for the creation of the concept of a green economy.
“It’s amazing how these things happen, that we have had to be beaten and pummelled into the ground of uncertainty about our futures, for us to take heed of that. But not any more so than having to face the spectre of significant and fundamental and far-seated and deep-rooted changes in our very significant environment through the process of climate change.
“Again … very much driven, if not fuelled, by the basic level of consumerism in our societies. For us to have bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger plants, bigger everything to produce bigger blocs of pollution to change our ozone layer, to change our climate for us to then inculcate in ourselves that our very basic concept of the post-globalisation era economies and society that is driven by consumption, that that in fact, may very well be the biggest challenge that we have in sustaining human and plant and animal life on this earth,” Sinckler said.