Your say / Bristol Green Party

‘Declaring a climate emergency means acting on it’

By eleanor combley, Friday May 3, 2019

I welcome the report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report, which lays out a clearly achievable pathway to net zero carbon for the UK as a whole by 2050.

It also clearly states that current policy will fail to achieve this, and is not even good enough to reach existing targets – the Tories are already missing their deadlines on carbon emissions.

While the Government is starting to talk a good game on climate change, its lack of action speaks louder than words. Influenced by fossil fuel lobbyists, the Government has expanded fracking and decimated the UK’s renewables industry by slashing subsidies.

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Labour too are scrambling to talk the talk on the environment, yet in recent months they have backed airport expansion, supported new coal mines, and pledged to maintain subsidies to Scotland’s fossil fuel industries.

Here in Bristol, the mayor and Labour councillors supported a Green party motion to call a climate emergency – but continue to support the expansion of Bristol airport and an extra 23,000 flights per year.

Eleanor is critical of the mayor’s support for Bristol Airport’s expansion plans

The CCC report states that the costs of taking action are manageable (less than two per cent of GDP) and that there are clear benefits to us all – improved health, reduced air and noise pollution, better quality of life, development of new green sectors and jobs.

In short, the Government has no excuse not to accept the findings and recommendations of the report, and to act on them immediately.

The 2050 target should please Labour, who already have it as policy, but it is not sufficient.

A more demanding target, like the 2030 zero carbon target proposed by Green councillors here in Bristol, is needed.

The benefits of a green revolution in low carbon products and services will go to the countries that lead the way, not to those who lag behind.

The later we leave it to take action, the more abrupt the changes that will be needed, and the greater the cost and disruption that will result. The sooner we take action the sooner we will see the benefits.

And as the first industrial country, we have a special responsibility to deal with the consequences of industrialisation, and to lead the way on the solutions.

Greens have been clear that this is an emergency. And to respond to an emergency, it’s not enough to talk about the climate – you have to do something about it.

We’re clear that the ‘business as usual’ called for by Sadiq Khan after a week of Extinction Rebellion action in London, simply doesn’t cut it.

Declaring an emergency means acting like it – we need nothing less than a radical rethink of the way our society and economy works. We have to stop putting profit before people and planet now – before it’s too late.

Eleanor Combley argues action is needed to combat climate change

Eleanor Combley is the leader of Bristol’s Green group of councillors

Read more: Bristol declares climate emergency and pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030

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