“Everyone asks me, what is the biggest threat to climate change? Short termism. That is the biggest threat.”
Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
HOW DO WE CHANGE DIRECTION? WHAT IS OUR ROLE?
It appears that what is needed NOW is political will in the UK. We all must rally to the cause if climate change is not to overwhelm us all. We need long term policies, not short term policies to please a few.
“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s weakening of the UK’s green policies is disturbing; whilst he claims he is helping ordinary people by playing politics with the climate, we all realise the big winners are big corporations like the oil and gas lobby. Rowing back on home insulation and commitments to help people move away from gas will ensure we stay at the mercy of volatile fossil fuels and exploitative energy companies. It will spook international investors who seek genuine government commitment on the green economy costing the UK both jobs and positive opportunities. Sunak must explain how we will meet our net zero commitments!” Greenpeace UK’s Policy Director, Doug Parr
WHAT CAN WE DO? GET INVOLVED WITH PROJECT CLIMATE VOTE
Ahead of the next general election, Greenpeace is building a wave of support for climate action across the country. They are asking people to become climate voters, to show UK politicians how many of us care about climate and care sufficiently to accept painful changes in the way we live.
Celebrities are backing a major new Climate Vote campaign ahead of the general election. Olivia Colman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Rylance joined 100,000 others who vow to party leaders “we will judge you at the next election”.
Greenpeace announced in late September the launch of a nationwide mass door-knocking programme aiming to recruit one million Climate Voters ahead of the next election. Climate Voters will persuade UK political parties to strengthen their plans to tackle the climate, nature and cost of living crises and will hold the next government to account.
The launch came as over 100,000 people signed an open letter addressed to all political leaders demanding stronger action on climate, stating that “we will judge you at the next election”. The letter warns that “our country is broken,” thanks to “the failure of successive governments” but that unlocking climate solutions will help tackle other crises by lowering energy bills, cutting air pollution and boosting the economy. Like so many issues climate is about complex issues intertwined.
What is Project Climate Vote?
A general election is coming, as soon as next year, and it is our best shot at pushing for serious climate action. Greenpeace is uniting the British public to pledge to become climate voters, to vote with climate in mind, and hold politicians to account on their climate policies – now, at the election and in future. But many people are not yet registered to vote in elections in the UK, although they are eligble. So that must be a first step:
Who and how can you register to vote in UK elections?
To qualify to be registered to vote you must be resident or deemed resident in the registration area. You must be aged 14 or over in order to register, however, you cannot vote until you are 16 (Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections) or 18 (UK Parliamentary Elections) and not subject to any legal incapacity. You must also be one of the following: a British citizen, an Irish or EU citizen living in the UK, a Commonwealth citizen who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission, or a citizen of another country living in Scotland who has permission to enter or stay in the UK, or who does not need permission.
• Together this is an opportunity we…that is you and I, all of Arran, can push this and the next government – whoever that may be – to take climate change seriously.
• Encourage friends, family and community to register to vote, if not already voters. We are in Ayrshire North and Arran Constituency. Individual Electors may make application for Registration during the year. Registration can now be done online. The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) is an official appointed by the local authority to prepare and maintain the Register of Electors. The ERO for Ayrshire is Magnus Voy,
• Individual Electoral Registration. A new process for voter registration was introduced in Scotland on 19 September 2014, which means each person is required to register to vote individually, rather than by household. The purpose of the new system, which was introduced in England and Wales earlier that year, is to ensure greater confidence regarding the identity of electors and improve access to the registration process.
• How is the new system different. You need to provide a few more details to register – including your national insurance number and date of birth. This makes the electoral register more secure.
• You can now register online on www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Everyone is responsible for registering themselves. Under the old system the ‘head of every household’ could register everyone who lived at their address.
• Once a person is registered under IER and they respond to the Annual Household Enquiry Form their registration is continuous until they move to a different address or for any reason are no longer eligible to remain registered as an elector.
• If you are not registered to vote, you are now required to register on an individual basis and provide ‘personal identifiers’ – date of birth and national insurance number. This will allow registration officers to cross check the information provided against national databases and other Council records before you can be added to the register. To complete the online voter registration application, visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you prefer, you can contact the Electoral Registration Office on 01292 612221 to complete your voter registration by telephone or to request a registration form. Please remember, you will need to provide your national insurance number and date of birth to complete the registration process.
• Voters in Scotland now need to show photo ID to vote at polling places in some elections. This will apply to: UK parliamentary by-elections, Recall petitions and from October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections. Voters in Scotland will not need to show photo ID at Scottish Parliament elections or at council elections. See information at:
• Most important of all is to USE your vote for the CLIMATE ACTION the UK needs to work towards zero carbon.
Climate change is happening now, and it is the most serious threat to life on our planet as we know it. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions to climate change and they are well-understood.
To remind us all of the need for progress: In 2015, world leaders signed a major treaty called the Paris agreement to put these solutions into practice. Core to all climate change solutions is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which must get to Net zero as soon as possible. Net zero describes a condition where any residual emissions are balanced by means of removing equivalent quantities from our atmosphere. Because both forests and oceans play vitally important roles in regulating our climate, increasing the natural ability of forests and oceans to absorb carbon dioxide can also help stop global warming.
The main ways to stop climate change are to pressure government and business to:
• Keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuels include coal, oil and gas – and the more that are extracted and burned, the worse climate change will get. All countries need to move their economies away from fossil fuels as soon as possible.
• Invest in renewable energy. Changing our main energy sources to clean and renewable energy is the best way to stop using fossil fuels. These include technologies like solar, wind, wave, tidal and geothermal power.
• Switch to sustainable transport. Petrol and diesel vehicles, planes and ships use fossil fuels. Reducing car use, switching to electric vehicles and minimising plane travel will not only help stop climate change, it will reduce air pollution too.
• Help us keep our homes cosy. Homes should not be draughty and cold – it is a waste of money, and miserable in the winter. The government can help households heat our homes in a green way – such as by insulating walls and roofs and switching away from oil or gas boilers to heat pumps and electrical heating.
• Improve farming and encourage vegetarian diets. One of the best ways for individuals to help stop climate change is by reducing their meat and dairy consumption. Businesses and food retailers can improve farming practices and provide more plant-based products to help people make the shift.
• Restore nature to absorb more carbon. The natural world is very good at cleaning up our emissions, but we need to look after it. Planting trees in the right places or giving land back to nature through ‘rewilding’ schemes is a good place to start. This is because photosynthesising plants draw down carbon dioxide as they grow, locking it away in soils. The only problem here is that locking up carbon this way takes too long to address the issue we face right now. Changes in the way we live our lives are urgently needed
• Protect forests like the Amazon. Forests are crucial in the fight against climate change, and protecting them is an important climate solution. Cutting down forests on an industrial scale destroys mature trees which could be sucking up huge amounts of carbon. Yet companies destroy forests to make way for animal farming, soya or palm oil plantations. Governments can stop them by making better laws and introducing regulatory actions.
• Protect the oceans. Oceans are by far the largest sink absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps to keep our climate stable. But many are overfished, used for oil and gas drilling or threatened by deep sea mining. Oceans have also to date absorbed huge amounts of heat from our atmosphere which in itself presents longer term limits on rates of assimilation of carbon dioxide. Protecting oceans and the life in them is ultimately a way to protect ourselves from climate change.
• Reduce how much people consume. Our transport, fashion, food and other lifestyle choices all have different impacts on the climate. This is often by design – fashion and technology companies, for example, will release far more products than are realistically needed. But while reducing consumption of these products might be hard, it’s most certainly worth it. Reducing overall consumption in more wealthy countries can help put less strain on the planet.
• Reduce plastic.Plastic is made from oil, and the process of extracting, refining and turning oil into plastic (or even polyester, for clothing is surprisingly carbon-intense. It does not break down quickly in nature so a lot of plastic is incinerated, which contributes to emissions. Demand for plastic is rising so quickly that creating and disposing of plastics will account for 17% of the global carbon budget by 2050 (this is the emissions count we need to stay within according to the Paris agreement).
It is easy to feel overwhelmed, and to feel that climate change is too big to solve. But we already have the answers, now it is a question of making them happen. To work, all of these solutions need strong international cooperation between governments and businesses, including the most polluting sectors.
But individuals, you and I, can also play a part by making better choices about where we get our energy, how we travel, and what food we eat, and how we act as consumers of fashion etc. But the best way for anyone to help stop climate change is to take collective action. This means pressuring governments and corporations to change their policies and business practices.
In its new manifesto asks, Greenpeace UK is calling for our next government to prioritise:
● Fixing our energy-wasting homes, unlocking affordable renewables and making public transport cheaper for everyone;
● Boosting the economy, creating thousands of jobs and supporting communities dealing with climate impacts by channelling investment into green industries and taxing the biggest polluters more;
● Protect nature at home and abroad from sewage and plastic pollution, destructive fishing and industrial agriculture.
I would add to this manifesto that we need to implement solutions for our biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the steel industry and the lime / cement industry whilst securing production and jobs.
Thanks to Greenpeace UK. See most www.greenpeace.co.uk