The Data is in – Climate Change is Real
The data is in, a United Nations panel of scientists have declared we have just 12 years to limit the devastating impacts of global warming. Science has recently confirmed that we are responsible for global warming, to the scientific gold standard, a “five-sigma” statistical gauge. It’s time to act.
A 700-page report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) details the damage, rising sea levels, severe droughts, extreme weather, will cause. Eventually global warming will lead to disease, famine & a refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale. It is clear, the pace we must decarbonise the economy & clean up our act, warrants an emergency.
Still, in the face of the evidence, climate deniers exist, who claim this is a global conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of scientists from every corner of the globe. These people are dangerous, it is clear to see they would allow great harm to come to future generations and to our planet.
A case and example would be the US President, Donald Trump, a simple minded individual, who brazenly disputes the existence of climate change on Twitter, the moment it snows. Fortunately, recent polls show US Republican & Democratic voters now view climate change as a serious threat, giving hope for 2020.
Climate Delayers are the real danger
Climate denial is dangerous but there’s something even more dangerous than the climate denier and that’s the climate delayer. Climate delayers are elected officials who claim they’re working hard to solve the upcoming climate crisis, they acknowledge the danger, but in reality, very little is done in comparison to scale of the challenge we face.
Climate delayers trick populations & voters into thinking we have this problem solved. They instil complacency as the clock ticks down, whilst selling their so-called ‘green credentials’ through the media.
David Cameron’s government was a prime example, posing for pictures with huskies in the snow, boasting to be “the greenest government ever”. Meanwhile, his government continued with tax breaks & subsidies for North Sea oil & gas and promoted the idea of Fracking – a highly polluting extraction method for shale gas. Policy decisions in direct contradiction with decarbonisation.
Quickly approaching a decade of Conservative or Conservative-coalition governments, precious time to tackle climate crisis has been wasted, with the government continuing to be effective climate delayers, with no radical plan to overhaul our energy production & use.
In 2016 alone £2.3bn in fossil fuel tax breaks & subsidies were provided by the UK tax payer. In 2017, the Conservative government allocated more than 30 times higher subsidies for fossil fuels, compared to their renewable counterparts. In 2018 the government gave the green light to for Fracking to increase fossil fuel production. None of these actions are in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, or a government that truly acknowledges climate change & the scale of action we need to take to solve it. They are climate delayers.
Incentivising fossil fuel extraction is morally incomprehensible in the era of climate change, yet the Conservatives not only choose to do so, they have also removed subsidies from renewable forms of energy and have created a hostile policy environment to hinder their growth.
Clean, renewable, cheap energy is the goal and as with every emerging technology, it requires help to get there. In the case of global warming, it needs more of a shove, than a gentle push. That includes investment in the technology, investment in the infrastructure & regulations that are workable to allow for rapid decarbonisation.
In 2015, Energy Secretary of the time, Amber Rudd, cut subsidies for onshore wind energy, claiming that 2,500 planned turbines not being built, was the right decision. Since 2017, the Conservatives have all but halted onshore wind farm production, through hostile regulatory hurdles, where England has now seen a 94% collapse in new planning applications for wind energy.
But the Conservatives tell us, wind power is just one part of the renewable mix, “Clean energy doesn’t begin and end with onshore wind” – Amber Rudd.
This statement is true, the renewable energy mix is broad, with, wind, solar, tidal, & some would even classify nuclear in there too.
‘Solar power crisis blamed on Tory Government as number of new installations plummets 80%’ – Independent, 2017. Behind this headline? The withdrawal of ‘virtually all’ subsidies for solar, up to an 800% hike in business rates paid on solar projects, imposition of what the renewable lobby are calling regulatory “red tape”.
Tidal energy, a clear renewable winner for the UK, an island surrounded by water, where conditions are perfect to harvest this limitless energy source. ‘£1.3bn Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project thrown out’ – BBC, 2018. Tidal is the type of climate change busting technology we needed to develop, and champion, was thrown to the dogs.
And 2019? The climate delaying Conservative government’s policy strikes disaster, even into carbon neutral nuclear energy – ‘Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales’ – The Guardian, 2019.
With this government keen to continue subsidising & expanding fossil fuel production, whilst eagerly stamping out the renewable sector, that we desperately need to combat climate change, people are taking matters into their own hands. From the valiant efforts of Greenpeace, to the birth of Extinction Rebellion & the direct-action young people have been demonstrating on the streets.
This action needs to go from the grassroots up to shape government policy. The Labour party are making all the right noises on climate change, but further pressure needs to be applied to ensure a truly transformative approach is taken. By the next election there may only be 9 more years to play our part in halting run-away temperature rises across the globe, no half-hearted strategy will do. It’s time we forged our own version of the Green New Deal.