London Event 15th of October – A Green New Deal?

Tuesday, October 15th from 6 PM, Juju’s Bar and Stage, Ely’s Yard, 15 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR.

The Green New Deal is a term that has been thrown around by policymakers both in the US, Europe and in the UK. But what is the Green New Deal, and what are the policy implications of it? How far must British and European policymakers go in order to reduce their emissions by 2030? What industries will die down in this process, and who is this affecting? Is it feasible, both in an economic and political perspective, that politicians and policymakers will pursue a Green New Deal? Are there security implications for restructuring our economic policies to fit the new green policies? Are there security implications if we don’t?


Dr Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli is a public international lawyer, with expertise in international environmental law and climate and energy law, based at King’s College London.

Dr Simon Chin-Yee is also based at King’s College London, in the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) in the War Studies department.

Christopher Barnard is the founder and president of the British Conservation Alliance, an organisation working to promote pro-market environmentalism and conservative conservation.

Peter Apps has been the Executive Director of PS21 since 2015, and is a Reuters global affairs columnist.

James Rising is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute at the LSE.

Alex Chapman is a consultant at the New Economics Foundation, with experience in qualitative and quantitative research, project evaluation and policy analysis.

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Why Europe has stopped trusting

Iona Allan

In Rome last month, Luigi di Maio, the 31 year frontman of the anti-establishment 5 Star Party won over 24% of the electoral vote and became the most powerful political force in Italy. For the second time in less than two years, a major western election has been fought and won by the swelling powers of populism.

For now at least, the 5 Star Movement are a long way from actually governing. Neither Di Maio, nor Matteo Salvini, the leader of far right Lega Nord party have enough seats to form a government. And the chances of a coalition emerging between Di Maio and Salvini are still very slim. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t just pull off one of the most comfortable victories of any protest party in Europe.

Indeed, what Di Maio, Salvini and his right wing affiliates did wasn’t so much win last month’s  election, but prevent the mainstream from doing so –  draining influence from the political centre and offering a supposedly clean break from politics as usual.

Why Italian voters turned their backs on the political establishment on the 4th March  is hard to know. To some, it was simply a reflection of the Democratic Party (PD’s) growing unpopularity across Italy and a backlash against the widely perceived personal vanities of Matteo Renzi- the country’s former Premier.  To others however, it points to a much bigger problem –  the widening disconnect and mounting distrust between the citizen and state.  Voters in Europe have grown restless. And it is the political centre which is currently paying the biggest price. Di Maio’s emphatic victory and the PD’s slow fall from grace is just the latest proof of this.

The 5 Star movement built their entire election campaign around the principle of rejection. Di Maio, like his influential predecessor Beppe Grillo, rejected basic aspects of the political system, calling for the dissolution of parliament and a shift towards a referendum based style of governance. The willingness of protest parties to challenge key pillars of the democratic system and commit themselves to outlandish policy gaffes is nothing new, nor anything to be necessarily worried about.  What is worrying however, is that these ideas are actually being listened to. What’s more they are being backed and championed as realistic political alternatives on a scale that was unimaginable only a few years before.

Italy’s election, like Donald Trump’s presidency and France’s flirtation with a far-right Le Penn government,  has proven once again just how contested our democratic norms have become.

The appeal of the middle ground is waning, and no matter how resilient liberal democracies have been in previous centuries, it’s hard not to feel that in this one, our political system has  slipped into slow state of crisis.



The reason this crisis feels so acute is because we are not just dealing with one, but with multiple. What’s more, they seemed to have reached their breaking points at precisely the same moment. The first; a crisis in political representation, where our elected officials and central rule making bodies are failing on a more consistent basis to deliver on their promises and break through mounting democratic gridlock.  At the same time however, the mainstream media, on whom we depend even more when our politicians fail us, are facing a similar crisis of legitimacy.  All the while, these anxieties are being transmitted, shared and amplified through our online networks, and, instead of confronting the views that we find destructive, we retreat further into the security of our own.  The result? A perfect storm of uncertainties and a feeling of disillusionment so profound that it has come to define an entire political era.

From the Italian elections, to the surge of the Hungarian, Polish and Swedish far right and onto the shock election of Donald Trump, what do all the seminal moments in the post-truth calendar have in common? They all took place within and indeed depended upon a pervasive culture of distrust. Distrust of politicians, distrust of the ‘dead tree press’ and distrust of the phoney expert- who, according to President Trump, ‘will say anything to keep the rigged system in place.’[1] But so what? Politicians have never ranked particularly highly in terms of trustworthiness and confidence in government institutions has been declining since the final, crook-denying days of President Richard Nixon. So what, if anything, distinguishes this current slump in trust from any other?

The answer, this article suggests, lies in the sheer intensity of the uncertainty and cynicism that this crisis has unleashed. What we are witnessing here, is something far greater and far less containable than Donald Trump, Luigi Di Maio or any other populist leader currently riding the wave of distrust.  What we are facing is in fact much worse; a culture of suspicion that extends beyond traditional political fault lines and casts doubt on all forms of public life.  According to Edelman’s ‘Trust Barometer’ over two thirds of countries in 2017 were classified as ‘distrusters’, meaning that levels of trust in government institutions have dipped below 50%.[2] This is a three point decrease from 2016. But compare this to the average of 80% trust in the US government during the early 1960s and even the moderate 60% levels in the early 2000s and this is a truly astonishing figure.

The favoured explanation, at least within Western scholarly circles is that this crisis of trust is the result of a seemingly  ‘toxic’ combination of technocratic driven policy disasters and the emergence of a mutually dishonest political-media hybrid.[3] The Iraq War, the parliamentary expense scandal, austerity, phone-hacking debacle, the shameful legacy Jimmy Saville left at the BBC and the mishandling of the Grenfell Tower fire are just some of the scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the British government in recent years.

Nevertheless the global financial crash of 2008 stands out as a particularly critical and legitimacy sapping moment the post-truth era.  Banks were bailed out, homes were lost and, as Stephen Griffin has highlighted, a new virulently anti-political discourse was spawned.[4] When the very institutions responsible for steering the global economy to the brink of meltdown were rescued and their directors allowed to carry on with the same impunity as before, then the result was not just collective sense that the economic system is broken, but the conviction that the entire system is broken.

What is interesting about all the countries which ranked lowest in terms of public satisfaction and faith in their institutions, is that they have one important and perhaps surprising feature in common. They are all democracies. Democracies, which currently lack the key ingredient needed for their survival; trust. This is not how we typically expect democratic systems to function. Shouldn’t freedom of expression, access to information, ability to play an active and critical role in public life translate into a moderate or least workable level of trust in government? Why don’t we have faith in a system which, since its ancient conception was built to be ‘fair’ and ‘just’? Isn’t ‘trust’ what we pay for the liberties and privileges of living in a modern democracy? Maybe, but that’s not what global trends seem to be telling us.

According to a 2017 Edelman’s poll, 53% of people surveyed from across 28 countries reported their distrust of central government and belief that the system as a whole was ‘failing them.’  And of those respondents who distrusted the ‘system’, fears over globalisation, technical progress, corruption, immigration and the failure of government to protect them and their families from the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis that were cited amongst the most common reasons for their mistrust. Trust and confidence are slippery political concepts and clearly not an inbuilt feature or commensurate outcome of democratic governance. They are built, according to one OCED policy brief, from ‘fair and reliable public services.’[5]

‘Public service’ is an equally misunderstood term, and one which is often confused with the mere existence of a democratic political structure, or the provision of basic civil liberties. In its most basic form public service means action and measurable outcome. But it also means the delivery of promises, and the expectation that your elected official will always and unconditionally be working in your interests. But the substantial majority, (75%) of respondents across all 28 countries surveyed by Edelman in 2017 felt  that this system wasn’t built to serve them, but to ‘accumulate wealth’,  assert power and undermine the interests of hardworking ‘ordinary’ people.[6] Instead of narrowing the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, governments are now seen to be supporting ‘their own’ and silencing the majority.




The problem, therefore, runs deeper than our elected politicians and has gone beyond a simple ‘mass v class’ conflict. [7] We don’t just distrust our politicians but seem to have grown cynical of an entire political system.  Of course distrust of the governing elite is not a new feature of the political landscape. What’s different today, is that this longstanding mistrust of politicians ‘to do the right thing’ and accurate perception of political elites being unable to deliver on their promises has coincided with a declining trust in other institutions; institutions which have historically held the state accountable for such promises and kept the rusting wheels of democracy rolling. In other words; our media.

Scepticism towards traditional media, both newspaper and broadcast, has been increasing steadily over the past two decades. This  culminated last year with only 6% of Americans and, with the lowest rating in Europe, 22% of Brits trusting the mainstream media .[8] According to 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Global results, only 43 % of respondents trust the media (5% less than in 2016) making it the second least trusted institution after government. [9]

The way we consume news has also changed dramatically over the last decade.  In 2017, with 3.77 billion internet users, online sites have rapidly outstripped television as a primary source of news. [10]  From Sweden to South Korea more and more smart phone owners now receive their news from social media rather than professional news sites.  The overwhelming majority of Americans also consume their news on Facebook. Ironically however, social media remains the least trusted news source across all categories, with only 12% of Americans actually trusting the information they consume. [11]

In Britain, this erosion of trust feels particularly hard to accept. As a country with a long history of independent journalism we tend to think of institutions like the BBC and Reuters as instinctively trustworthy and unbiased. Recent research suggests however, that their reputations are far from unshakable. Just under half of British people now don’t trust these institutions to report with balance, fairness, and accuracy.[12] Indeed, the BBC has faced more accusations of bias in the last year than in any other. It’s coverage of Brexit for example has been accused of being too quick to accept some of the wild  claims made by both sides of the campaign. The ‘Leave’ Campaign’ pledge to fund an extra £350 million a week to the NHS is one of the more outlandish promises that wasn’t scrutinised carefully until after the referendum. Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor faced similar accusations of inaccurate and partisan reporting of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his views on ‘shoot to kill’ terror policies.[13] Claims of bias reporting dominated the U.S election as well, from the supposed ‘fake news’ agenda being waged against Donald Trump by CNN, The New York Times and other liberal leaning institutions, to the accusations that the candidate Bernie Sanders was either negatively framed or under reported during his run for the Democratic nomination. Whether there are any truth to these accusations is almost besides the point. The problem runs deeper and requires us to confront two of the most perplexing features of the post-truth landscape; the impulse to congregate with the ‘like minded’ and the ease with which we dismiss the views and ‘facts’ which that challenge our own.

As Nick Barron has argued, the root cause of the post-truth world is not the lack of trust in the media per se, but rather the growing trust we place in ‘someone like me’.  This tendency to retreat into the comfort of the like minded echo-chambers has two significant consequences.  First, it makes it possible to avoid interacting and engaging with disconfirming information, and secondly it produces tribes and like- minded clusters, who, contrary to what they may claim, are actually less likely to hold power to account and more likely to consume ‘fake news’ uncritically.

The contradiction is striking, but it is nonetheless characteristic our current political culture. What’s worse is that this cycle of cynicism and mistrust seems to be endlessly self producing.  The more we retreat into like minded eco-chambers, the more we abandon the process of critical thinking and up placing more trust in social media algorithms than human experts. The result, is an electorate that is almost immune to counter argument.

How many times during the weeks leading up to the US election did Donald Trump face what should have been campaign ending scandals? There were countless. But he won nonetheless. Why? First of all he offered change not continuity, and secondly he convinced his voters that he was was one of them, part of their tribe- or  ‘the common man’ as The New York Times put it.[14]  Given that 71% of Americans now have more faith in reformers than in defenders of the status quo, the odds now seem like they were always stacked in the President’s favour.[15] Indeed, as Naomi Klein has pointed out in her recent study No Is Not Enough, President Trump was only half joking when he said ‘I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I still wouldn’t lose any voters.’ [16]

Whats’ more, is that according to former Brexit strategist Dominic Cummings, this tribalism and fetish to trust ‘someone like me’, is not confined to any particular social group. The only difference, Cummings  suggests is that the ‘educated’ are more willing to deny what is actually happening. ‘They back their gang’ he explains, ‘and then fool themselves that they have reached their views by their own sensible and intelligent reasoning.’[17]

The internet has undoubtedly amplified this trend,  but it did not create them. Neither can we conclude that our politicians and journalists are quantitively more dishonest now than they were 10 years ago.  Anxieties and frustrations at ‘the system’ have always been a feature of political life.  What has changed therefore, is the intensity at which these uncertainties are being felt, the speed at which they are being transmitted and the feeling that ‘crisis’ is is being fought on not just one but multiple fronts.

Solving these problems presents an immense challenge. Democracy depends on its citizens arguing constructively, and until we are forced to leave our eco-chambers and engage in some degree of critical thinking then there is little hope that trust will ever return to public life.

The advance of populism, however, is not inevitable. And as shakable as the political establishment feels in this current climate, we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from the triumph of Italian populism. Trust has been drained from our political system, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t salvageable. Building a more accountable media, transparent political system and two way stream of public communication will be the first of many steps required to restore faith in our institutions.
It may take generations to build and only a few seconds to break, but trust is too important and too integral to the future of our political system to abandon altogether. The fight back must start now.
[1] Catherine Happer, ‘The Post-Trust Crisis of Mainstream Media, Glasgow Sociology, (2016), accessed 15th June 2017.

[2] 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, Global results, Slide 11,

[3]Matthew D’Ancona, Post Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight It (London, 2017), p. 37.
Jane Suiter, ’Post-truth Politics’, Political Insight (2016), pp- 25- 27.

[4] Stephen M Griffin, ‘Trump Trust and the Future of the Constitutional Order’, Maryland Law Review 77 (2017), pp1-16.

[5] OESD, “Trust in Government”, Home/Directorate for Public Governance/Trust in Government.

[6] 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, Global Results, HYPERLINK “”; Richard Edelman, “An Implosion of Trust”, Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 Executive Summary,””

[7] Richard Edelman, “An Implosion of Trust”, Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017 Executive Summary, “”

[8], accessed 20 July 2017., accessed 20 July 2017.

[9] 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, Global results, Slide 10, .


[11], accessed 20 July 2017.

[12], accessed 24 July 2017.

[13], accessed 19 July 2017.


[15] Friedman, ‘Why Trump is Thriving in an Age of Distrust’.

[16] Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Defeating The New Shock Politics (London, 2017), p. 34.

[17] D’Ancona, Post Truth .


Image Attribution: TheAndrasBarta/Pixabay

What next for Germany?


by Linda Schlegel. Linda is an student of MA Terrorism Studies at King’s College London

2016 has been a bumpy road so far for politics, most notably with an unexpected Brexit vote and (according to the polls) an equally unexpected victory for Donald Trump over his opponent Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency in the US. Many Europeans feel slightly insecure in light of this new political order and the year 2017 promises to bring other decisive political events in the form of elections in France, Hungary, Norway and the Netherlands. The far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen, is ranked high in the polls and hopes to secure victory riding on the high anxiety resulting from the recent terror attacks. The political landscape in Europe will once again change, as it does every so often- but this time it is not unreasonable to assume a certain shift to the right.

In 2017, Germany will also make two important political decisions with a presidential election and a parliamentary election lined up later in the year. Germany, both praised and criticized for its role in the refugee crisis, might find itself without the well-known partners of the past after Brexit, the US elections and possibly after the French elections. Germany will inevitably be influenced by these outside factors given its role in many international structures and its strong European commitment.  Germany’s responsibilities in the EU and internationally will mean that the outcome of elections will have implications far beyond its own borders.

Whoever takes the presidency will do so in a mostly symbolic sense: the German President actually has very limited power. At this point in time, the most likely candidate is the current Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (of the Social Democratic Party, hereafter SDP). Steinmeier’s nomination is noteworthy because he is the candidate for more than one party: in an effort to display unity in a time of crisis, both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have chosen to nominate the Foreign Minister for the role. Domestically, this is a very logical move, since Steinmeier is one of the most well-liked politicians in the country. However, a successful campaign would leave an empty seat in the cabinet and his successor would certainly have big shoes to fill given that the man has been recognized as a successful Foreign Minister especially in improving Germany’s relationship with Russia.

A favorite option for the Foreign Minister’s job if Martin Schulz (SDP), who is currently the President of the European parliament and is due to hand this position to an opposition candidate, from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in 2017. However, Schulz is widely known to be a hearty defender of the European Union and has vocalized problems with Putin, Trump and most pointedly, Britain’s Brexit. The implications of Steinmeier victory could therefore have far-reaching implications for Germany’s international relationships.

While the President is something of a symbolic figure in German politics, the result of next autumn’s parliamentary elections will signify the real decision about Germany’s future. Given that the German system does not restrict the number of terms for chancellors, the current Chancellor Merkel (CDU) is expected to run for a fourth term in office. If things develop as expected (which in the light of Brexit may well not be the case) Merkel would stay in office and the CDU would retain a majority in parliament, although are predicted to face significant losses of up to 10% compared to the 2013 result.

The real question is with whom she would then build a coalition, and how successful the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) will be in the vote. The most recent polls suggest that the SPD would win around 22% of the vote while AfD and Germany’s Green party around 12% each. If fringe parties such as the left-wing Die Linke retain or increase their votes, that would mean that the new German parliament could contain up to six parties. This poses two potential problems.

Firstly, Merkel has governed a ‘big coalition’ between the CDU and the SPD, whose differing positions make consensus difficult. Voters have repeatedly voiced concerns over this perennial middle-ground, instead of being able to legitimate one party over the other. The second problem is the trouble that recent polls have had in accurately predicting results. Even if the polls place the AfD’s share of the vote at only at 12%, Trump’s election as POTUS has reminded political scientists that voters may not always disclose their honest opinions until they reach the polling stations. An AfD backed by 20-25% of the votes could put considerable pressure on Merkel to move the CDU towards the right and could advocate for a change not only in refugee policies but also in European political matters.

In France an election of Le Pen and a resulting shift to the right are within the bounds of possibility, In Germany, at present, it is expected that Merkel will continue to serve as the Chancellor. If we assume that continuity will prevail in Germany, how do the changes in the international political environment impact Germany’s position in the world? The Chicago Tribune’s headline: ‘Europe’s reluctant leader inherits the world in age of Trump‘, summarizes what has been suggested by many. That is, in times of uncertainty, Germany could become the anchor point of the ‘old’ world order.

With this, Germany is likely to be forced to take more responsibility than it has in the past and emerge from a decades-long reluctance to actively participate in world affairs. More than ever, Germany could become the face of the European Union in dialogues with both the US and Russia. If the EU-skeptic Le Pen is elected in France, Germany may furthermore find itself fighting to hold the Union together as a lone warrior. The refugee crisis, financial issues and a general popular disagreement with EU policies have put the EU in an insecure position. Elections of right-wing leaders and possibly countries seeking to follow Great Britain may shake the Union to its core.

As one of the EU’s strongest countries, Germany could find itself responsible for the future of the Union. Even worse from the perspectives of many Germans is the possibility that Trump’s plan to reduce the US’ NATO involvement is more than a lip service. This would mean that Germany, the reluctant military power, may have to increase military spending and military involvement- a prospect that is unlikely to be welcomed generally pacifist German public. So, what is next for Germany? Nothing seems to be certain after this year’s events. The only prediction one can safely make is that Germany’s role will change with changing international circumstances and this might require a redefinition of the country’s reluctant leadership.

PS21 is a non-national, non-governmental, non-ideological organisation. All views expressed are the author’s own.

Italy and Libya: Why Libyan stability is vital to PM Renzi’s career


By Lorenzo Holt- Lorenzo is an Italian-American journalist based in London.

The Italian government is facing enough pressure to put its survival over the next few months into question. Depositors have withdrawn €78 billion from Italy’s central bank since May, while government attempts at bailing out Italy’s private banks have been met with little private-sector interest and inflexibility from the EU. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s main opponents, the anti-establishment party Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), accuse him of being subservient to EU interests while ignoring those of Italians.

Italians are also increasingly frustrated at Renzi’s inability to secure EU support for the migrant crisis. Over 300,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the EU took control of Mediterranean border security in 2014, costing the Italian government over €3 billion a year, according to the Financial Times.

The migrants and their smugglers are facilitated by the chaos in Libya, where Italy has very large interests but little influence. There too, Italian popular opinion doesn’t always coincide with international politics. The way Renzi handles the volatile situation in Libya – exacerbated by a recent coup – may determine his career.

Italy and Libya have mutual business interests reinforced by time and proximity, and Italy enjoyed a privileged economic relationship with Libya under Berlusconi in the 2000s. Thousands of small and medium-sized Italian businesses were working in Italy before Libya’s civil war in 2011, and many left behind millions of dollars in suspended contracts and equipment. ENI, Italy’s national oil company, has been operating in Libya since 1959 and is responsible for much of the country’s energy infrastructure.

The Italo-Libyan chamber of commerce estimates that business revenue between the two countries in the years leading up to the war (excluding oil and gas) totaled €30-40 billion- and that initial reconstruction investments in Libya could total €400 billion. Access to suspended investments and new business opportunities in Libya would be a much-needed tonic for Italy’s consumptive economy.

Obviously, no progress can be made until Libya is stable – a prospect which looks increasingly unlikely. Libya is divided between the secular Tobruk government in the east, Tuareg rebels and smaller fractions in the southwest and the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west. The GNA was formed in December 2015 in an attempt to unite Libya’s rival governments. Widely regarded by Libyans as a foreign imposition, it was first rejected by the Tobruk government in September and more recently deprived of some of its municipal buildings in Tripoli during a coup on October 14.

Foreign nations have been ambiguous about which of the many Libyan factions they support. Although officially declaring exclusive support for the GNA, US, French and British special forces have been widely reported to be fighting alongside other factions including the GNA’s main opposition, the Tobruk government. The UAE has been reported to be providing weapons to Tobruk’s military commander, Khalifa Haftar, in violation of the UN arms embargo, while Egypt – eager for stability on its western border – has also been reported to have supplied Haftar with military helicopters and aeroplanes.

Italy’s role in such a high-stakes environment is limited by its military and political weakness. So far, it has faithfully aligned itself with the UN and the interests promoted by France, the US and the UK. In September, Italy deployed 300 soldiers to Misrata to staff and protect a newly built field hospital, making it the first nation to establish an official military presence in the country. It has allowed US drones and aeroplanes to operate from its airfields and has publicly expressed its willingness to lead a UN intervention in Libya. During Renzi’s stay in Washington on Tuesday October 18, Obama praised Italy’s role in forming the GNA and fighting ISIS.

Libyan oil facilities captured by Haftar in September are producing over half a million barrels per day and funding the GNA. This provides the country with much-needed revenue and a tentative sense of progress. It also benefits Italian oil importers. But the coup in Tripoli on October 14, although largely ignored by the media, signals deep, unresolved divisions and the potential for escalated conflict.

Libya’s status quo is bad enough for Renzi, but his sensitivity to UN interests could make things very difficult for him should the situation deteriorate. Accusations from his opponents of being a US or EU stooge and wasting government money while neglecting domestic problems would be particularly damaging. Renzi can only hope that his traditional western allies will find a tactful, non-military solution in Libya; given their track record over the last 15 years, the odds are not in his favour.

Libya represents a relatively detached geopolitical interest to the main international actors but it is Italy’s next door neighbour. The impact of a worsening situation in Libya would be immediately felt through increased migrant arrivals, rising energy costs and the further loss of business and energy assets. Stability, on the other hand, would help keep the Italian economy afloat while offering a viable, safer alternative for migrants.

The question for Renzi is whether or not his decision to follow the UN line in Libya, like that of following the EU line at home, is something the Italian people will find agreeable.

PS21 is a non-national, non-governmental, non-ideological organisation. All views expressed are the author’s own.