Parliament must declare a climate emergency – not ignore it

(The Guardian, 4 Mar 2019) Westminster’s lacklustre approach is incredible. We need nothing short of a transformation of the way we live our lives.

MPs debated climate change in the Commons chamber last week for the first time in two years. It was our first opportunity since September 2016 to talk about the biggest and most urgent crisis humanity has ever faced. Just 40 MPs showed up. This absenteeism speaks volumes. Even as we’ve sweated through a record-breaking February, as wildfires tear through our ancient woodlands, as insect and wildlife populations collapse around us, the words “climate change” are scarcely whispered in the corridors of Whitehall.

Since 2010, this government has built a bonfire out of the measures designed to cut emissions. Zero carbon homes targets have been scrapped. Onshore wind has been effectively banned. Solar power has been shafted. The Green Investment Bank has been flogged off. Fracking has been forced on communities who have rejected it. Ministers champion the drop in our domestic carbon dioxide emissions – but they neglect to mention the true scale of our impact. Between 1997 and 2015, our total carbon footprint – taking into account everything we import and consume, as well as what we produce – declined by a pitiful 3.8%.

On the opposition benches, while many MPs grasp the severity of this situation, their parties’ policies are littered with impossible inconsistencies. We cannot tackle climate change and build new runways, or prop up North Sea oil and gas, or spend billions on new roads. And we cannot tackle climate change with an economy built on the assumption that precious minerals, fresh air, clean water and rare species can magically regenerate themselves in an instant – that somehow the Earth will expand to meet our voracious appetite for new stuff.

External link

The Guardian, 4 Mar 2019: Parliament must declare a climate emergency – not ignore it