• Nigel Hennerley

Opinion: Why this election needs to be about climate change

Time to next election: 4 weeks

Time to next election after that: 5 years

Time we have left to make the changes we need to mitigate the climate crisis: 11 years.

Time is running out.

Since 2016, we’ve been hearing the same droning fallacies of life after Brexit – a bizzaro game of deal or no deal. Parliament has been at a standstill ever since, paralysed by ruminating MPs poring over deals, amendments, and strategies that get abandoned anyway. Our already too-slow system has been disrupted and all but ground to a halt over an impasse that is costing us billions. Meanwhile the planet’s temperature is soaring, extreme weather events become commonplace, ecosystems polluted by toxic hydrocarbons, species of birds and bees are wiped into extinction, and our children’s future slipping away before their eyes.

And how does the government respond? Well mainly with inaction. Every day we produce more CO2 than we consume, worsening a problem that shouldn’t be worsened. Instead of finding low carbon energy solutions we are opening new deep coal mines in Cumbria, doing exploratory drilling for oil in Surrey, and continuing to push fracking on communities that do not want it. As for the ‘green’ policies already being pushed out, they are woefully inadequate and tokenistic musings spewed up by the ‘Department for Clean Growth’. I mean Department for Clean Growth can we talk about what an oxymoron that is for a second? Anyway, beyond proposing flimsy crowd-pleasers like green licence plates for EVs and setting targets they have no intention of hitting, the government has made little progress towards making the radical changes to society that we need to halt the climate and ecological crisis. We need dramatic change and we need it now (or yesterday).

In a recent opinion poll 71% of Britons said that climate change would be one of their key considerations in this upcoming general election. Movements like the Youth Strike for Climate and Extinction Rebellion show us that this is something that UK people are truly concerned about. They are demanding real, meaningful change from a lazy, greedy government. Well leopards don’t change their spots – and Tories don’t start putting people before profits just because it’s a general election.

If it sounds like I’m angry, it’s because I am. The poorest people on this planet are already suffering and dying as a direct result from climate change. Year upon year I have watched CO2 emissions go up from the UK. Whatever we are doing now it is not working, and it is a crime against people and planet. We have lost species that we will never get back, parts of the UK will go underwater and never be seen again. It is the fault of our government and their failure to pay the price to save humanity, instead choosing to line the pockets of the richest 1% with tax breaks.

Enough is enough. Stop thinking about Brexit, stop thinking about your taxes, think about your children and their future. Do you want them to hear the sound of birds? Visit a beach and feel the sand between their toes rather than plastic? Have a prosperous future and maybe children of their own one day? Then vote for politicians who are capable of making that happen.

Because business as usual has failed to do so.

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