Whilst very many worthwhile policies have been debated throughout this campaign such as NHS, Economy, and Education etc the one topic noticeable by its absence has been climate change.
It is maybe understandable that when there are so many issues causing such damage to public services and such distress to individuals that climate change gets pushed down the list of priorities. I guess it’s a bit like if we eat unhealthily or over spend on the credit card the immediate gain often wipes away the long term negative effect.
But climate change isn’t something that can be remedied quickly like a trip to the gym or cutting back to pay the credit card bill. What we do now is having an effect on our planet now and even more importantly into the future for future generations.
If the global average temperature rise can be kept below 2 degrees C, runaway or disastrous climate change can be avoided, though severe damage will occur in some parts of the world. Many countries and civil society organisations argue that the international goal should be to keep to 1.5 degrees C of warming, highlighting the severity of the climate impacts we are already seeing. All countries including the UK agreed at Copenhagen in 2009 to recognise the need to limit the average temperature rise to below 2 degrees C, despite the fact that the UK’s climate change target means that there is an almost two-thirds (63%) chance of exceeding this 2 degrees C.
To meet the 2 degree C target, the world needs to limit total global emissions over the rest of the century to about 1,000 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2. Current projections have us exceeding that figure by 2040, leading to devastating average warming of around 4 degrees C by the end of this century.
As the UK has about 1% of the world’s population, its allowable budget would amount to 10 Gt CO2. But the UK is a relatively rich country that has benefited from the world’s highest cumulative historical emissions per person. The Green Party therefore believes that the UK should plan to emit only half this amount by 2030 (which amounts to around 80 million tonnes CO2 a year by 2030), and have negligible emissions thereafter. This translates into our target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10% of their 1990 levels by 2030. This goes much further than the 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 mandated by the Climate Change Act.
To achieve our climate change targets we have to act now, we have to reduce our energy consumption, transport emissions and we have to stop decimating our planets resources.
This means we have to invest in renewable energy sources and not Fracking, Coal power stations and Nuclear, we have to invest in public transport we are now about to see the benefits of the tram in Beeston but remarkably Anna Soubry called for a new car park in the town recently.
When we have such good transport links these need to be encouraged rather than still encouraging car use. The main parties will spend around £15 billion on new roads if elected next week and we know from experience that when new roads just fill up with more cars and literally get us nowhere.
It’s time to really take responsibility for our planet and for the future we leave for our children and grandchildren, it may take sacrifice, it may mean difficult decisions but without action the debate on all other issues becomes academic as without achieving results of climate change we will have so much more to worry about.
The only party committed to tackling climate change and willing to say what needs to be done even though it’s not always a welcome message is the Green Party.
Start your efforts to tackle climate change next Thursday by Voting for the Green Party locally and nationally.
Whilst writing this blog the news that the supreme court has ordered the future government to take action on air pollution, this is a great start but we need a strong Green presence at all levels to make sure it happens.