By Annie Dare
Last month, the Secretary General of the UN António Guterres delivered an unprecedented address, committing his organization to accelerating global efforts to halt climate change. The speech is worth reading in full: at a moment when elected politicians are doing anything but lead on this, the single defining issue of our era, it is a reminder of what genuine political will looks and sounds like. Here’s an edit: ‘We are at a defining moment. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us… Nothing less than our future and the fate of humankind depends on how we rise to the climate challenge. There is no more time to waste. Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants—a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth.’
Then two days ago Martin Wolf, the FT’s chief economics correspondent, wrote an op-ed in which he argued that to overcome this challenge will require the sort of collaboration hitherto only seen in times of war. Instead, last week’s crucial IPCC report was met with what he classified as a ‘collective yawn’ & inaction by political leaders—inaction he says our children will see as a crime. ‘It is five minutes to midnight on climate change,’ he wrote. ‘We will have to alter our trajectory very quickly if we wish to have a good chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This is very unlikely to happen. That is no longer because it is technically impossible. It is because it is politically painful. We are instead set on running an irreversible bet on our ability to manage the consequences of a far bigger rise even than 2C. Our progeny will see this as a crime.’
Most of us are already making huge efforts to change our own consumption habits and cut our emissions. Flying and driving less. Eating more of a plant-based diet. Setting the thermostat 1 degree lower. Mothballing the tumble-drier. Hooray. But both Guterres and Wolf point out that for things to genuinely change will require truly bold leadership. It’s clear that we will need to campaign for that. Our leaders and all our MPs need to know they have not just a proper mandate to press for the gigantic and in Wolf’s words ‘politically painful’ pivot it will require for us to avoid catastrophe: but a democratic obligation.
There IS still time. Our voice DOES count.
- The below is a petition to Parliament that it takes literally 2 seconds to click on.
- With 10,000 signatures Government is required to respond.
- With 100,000 Government is required to debate it in Parliament.
- But what’s to stop this reaching 10, 20, 30 million signatures sending a very powerful message to politicians?
- Please sign it. Please share it.
By taking action now there’s a chance our children and grandchildren might have the chance to dance and sing on a planet crammed with natural wonder just as we all have.