What Declaring a Climate Emergency Looks Like
Our climate is breaking down. Rising seas and extreme weather events are putting tens of millions of people around the world at direct risk. And younger generations are being robbed of their future on a healthy, livable planet.
So we need the government to declare a Climate Emergency and take immediate radical action on climate change – because that’s what’s required for our survival.
There are plenty of things the government can do right now that will help prevent climate breakdown / the worst effects of climate change. Here’s what we need them to do:
Ban all new oil and gas production in the UK, including fracking
Drilling for more oil and gas, and opening up a new fossil fuel frontier with fracking, is completely incompatible with the massive reduction in carbon emissions we need to avoid climate disaster.
Triple renewable energy by 2030
Our energy system can and should be run on 100% renewables. If the government set ambitious targets for solar and wind this would massively help the transition. See this great Greenpeace report for more info.
Plant 700 million trees
Trees both soak up carbon from the atmosphere and prevent flooding. To meet the climate emergency, the government needs to set an afforestation target of at least 70,000 hectares per year by 2023. This means planting around 100 million trees per year, ensuring species are suitable for local habitats and ecosystems
Introduce a Frequent Flyer Tax
The UK’s emissions from flying are higher than anywhere in Europe, and equivalent to the whole country emissions of Croatia. A Frequent Flyer Tax would see those who fly more paying more, discouraging extra trips, and would put the cost on the richer in our society who fly the most.
End the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030
Transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector. We need to see a rapid switch to electric vehicles with greater provision for walking and cycling. And the government needs to end the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars by 2030.
Roll out free bus travel for young people and those on lower incomes
As our society changes quickly, it is vital that vulnerable people are not left behind. People on lower incomes should be supported to change their lifestyles to cleaner greener ones which are more readily affordable to wealthier people.
End carbon emissions from heavy industry like steel and cement
Carbon emissions from heavy industry are huge. A range of new and developing technologies could make big cuts here, but they need government support to start happening.
Create millions of jobs in a new green economy
Government support is necessary to help workers transition their skills to the green economy. People working in offshore oil need support to switch to offshore wind, or likewise people working in car engine manufacturing need support to switch to the essential battery technology production for electric cars and power storage – for which there is a huge emerging market in Europe right now.
Retrofit our homes to go zero carbon
Homes account for around 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas. Making buildings more sustainable is probably one of the toughest sectors to crack because the solutions are so localised and connected to people’s everyday lives, and because in some cases clear technical answers are still being worked out. Joined-up action between improving building efficiency and heat supply is essential and can only be done effectively at a local level. In turn this means empowerment and support for local authorities as they develop, gain consent and deliver projects across their local populations
Radically change the farming and food system to encourage a less meat-based diet
We need a more sustainable, healthy and local food and farming model that encourages people to have a less meat-based diet. As part of that, we need to support our farming communities to shift to more sustainable production methods, and ensure that people on lower incomes or in more precarious circumstances have access to affordable healthier, more sustainable food.
Stepping it up
Greenpeace has been campaigning on climate change for decades. But now we’re stepping up the ambition on our climate work because despite decades of campaigning along with many other people and organisations, the action taken so far by those in power has not been enough to prevent impending climate breakdown.
There is a real disconnect between the actions of politicians and what climate science says we need. In October 2018, world leading scientists said that we don’t have long to transition our society if we want to have a chance of keeping the global climate below 1.5 degrees of warming, which is widely seen as a threshold beyond which the impacts of climate change become unacceptable. We need to stop putting more carbon emissions into our atmosphere and protect carbon sinks like oceans and forests, which soak up carbon dioxide. This means real and immediate action to reduce emissions from transport, heat, energy and food as well as binding international agreements to protect oceans and forests.
Radical action on climate change must be on the top of the political, business and public agenda. It can mean cheaper bills and better jobs – but only if the government makes the right investments, tax plans, and public support for a transition, now. Sign the petition and call on the government to declare a Climate Emergency.
About Philip Evans