climate emergency

Sharma’s COP26 challenge: plan to follow Greta’s lead

There are signs of progress of sustainability – saving our planet – in many walks of life. However, only with a sense of history can we judge if the Climate Emergency is truly being addressed.

Those judging whether humanity is making progress don’t have to have lived through the attempts or to have been old enough to make value judgements for all that time, either.

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, has been pretty vocal for a number of years. Having only just turned 18, on January 3, she has started the year and her adult life being outspoken and caustic. Just as outspoken and caustic as she was when she shot to fame as the girl who went on strike from school to highlight climate change.

Shouting from that modern rooftop, Twitter, she has roundly condemned political leaders. They have, she said, failed to achieve any of their ambitious biodiversity goals, set in 2010 and agreed at a conference in Aichi, Japan.

Read More »Sharma’s COP26 challenge: plan to follow Greta’s lead

The real Reigate solution: pedestrianise the High Street

When the community recycling centre at Earlswood reopened after lockdown and there were long traffic queues, was the solution to get rid of the recycling centre? No, of course not. After McDonalds’ drive through in Salfords reopened and there were long queues for that too, was the restaurant removed? Don’t be silly.

But when temporary cycle lanes were introduced in Reigate Town Centre last Saturday morning – and were instantly blamed for long traffic queues – were they removed? Or did the delayed drivers think about taking alternative routes instead, another time?

They didn’t get much thinking time. These cycle lanes were part of the Active Travel funding given by central government – the Department for Transport – to Surrey. This was intended to improve cycle access and walkways. In a nationwide scheme, councils were asked to bid for money to set up temporary improvements. But the three-week experiment was halted on Monday night, after three days. By which time there was very little traffic to be impeded.

Read More »The real Reigate solution: pedestrianise the High Street
An example of an oil drilling rig

Rejecting new oil drilling is slippery business

What did it mean when the Government declared a Climate Emergency and Surrey County Council – among other regional authorities – followed suit? Did it give them powers to act in certain ways?

Could they use it to influence policy? To set agendas? To change historical ways of doing things, in order to be more environmentally friendly? Was it a door ajar to push for change, and only ajar rather than open? Or a truly defining moment where the door was wide open and a real crack at reducing our carbon emissions could be made?

Working towards a carbon neutral Britain by 2050 has to start now – and many say that target should be much closer.

When Extinction Rebellion held London, and other cities, to ransom in April 2019, the UK Government took notice.

Read More »Rejecting new oil drilling is slippery business
Green recovery

How would you ask your MP to tackle climate emergency?

What would you ask your MP to do to battle the Climate Emergency, if you had the chance? Today, the Climate Coalition is giving people across the UK the chance to press their MPs for action, with a designated day of action.

Last year, 12,000 people gathered outside Parliament, with many of them being granted an audience with their Member of Parliament in groups. This year, social distancing restrictions mean that gatherings can’t happen. It will all be done on Zoom, if your MP agrees to meet.

The Climate Coalition campaign aims to put constituents in an area together to meet their MP. They are calling their campaign The Time Is Now – to put people, climate and nature at the heart of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19.

If I had the chance today, I would ask my MP to: note the Government’s declaration of a Climate Emergency as a gateway to change and note the public mood; consider many of the Climate Coalition’s asks; and back a couple of existing campaigns.

Read More »How would you ask your MP to tackle climate emergency?

What are you doing for 30 Days Wild?

What are you doing for 30 Days Wild? Not heard of it? It’s the Wildlife Trusts campaign to encourage people to do 30 days of Random Acts of Wildness during June to help the environment.

Schools, groups and individuals are urged to do something to encourage biodiversity – as wide a variety of nature as possible – to thrive. It is to help tackle the climate emergency and particularly pollinators at this time of year.

One idea behind the campaign is that, whatever you do, it is habit forming. The campaign encourages participants to continue to do something for longer than 30 days. Or to take notice of nature for longer than 30 days at least.

One year, I interpreted the campaign not as doing something daily, but letting the “wild things grow” as it were, in a dedicated area.

Read More »What are you doing for 30 Days Wild?
Generic picture of oil refinery

BP’s answer to climate emergency: shed staff

When BP announced on Monday that it would shed 10,000 staff by the end of the year because of a drop in demand for oil and investing more in renewable energy forms, on a drive towards being carbon neutral, it raised many more questions than it answered.

CEO Bernard Looney wrote up on LinkedIn what he had told staff in his briefing. It became listed as an “editor’s choice” story on the news feed of the business social networking site.

Commentators offered many viewpoints. One was that this shedding of staff was inevitable. It was merely delayed from March and in fact the company’s line about there being a drop in demand for oil pre-dated the Covid-19 crisis, when there was a large drop in demand for oil.

Readers might have noticed that there were far fewer aeroplanes, that far fewer people drove – including to work – and the petrol prices dipped to about £1.00 per litre at the pumps.

Read More »BP’s answer to climate emergency: shed staff
Packaging at Morrisons

More reasons to think supermarkets are noting planet

Is the tide turning towards environmentalism and business solutions that protect the planet and all its inhabitants? Even a little bit?

While our Governments remain slow to inject a real sense of pace and urgency towards the Climate Emergency, there are – as it were – green shoots.

After central Government announced money to fund cycling and walking projects [a week later that Scotland], in Surrey, it was dragged out of a representative of the county council some time later that there is a pop-up pedestrian pathway planned for Farnham, with another to follow in Reigate in a couple of weeks’ time.

At least something, then, at opposite sides of our wide “shire”. A beacon of hope that the thought is there, resonating somewhere within an authority that has declared a Climate Emergency.

Read More »More reasons to think supermarkets are noting planet
Humans are being displaced from uninhabitable areas already

Climate emergency needs shift in economic thinking

“Lockdown is showing us the misery that Net Zero 2050 will demand.”

In one sense, the headline offered hope. Could this be, finally, a national media journalist outside the Guardian offering us a glittering set of solutions for the climate emergency, to avoid Net Zero in 2050?

Not a bit of it. Charles Moore, in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, offered under the above headline exactly what I feared: fear of changing our ways because it would upset our current economic model. Or, more precisely, the economic model of the rich, individuals or nations, who would trample on those affected by climate change; the refugees already beginning to be displaced by shrivelled up land that has become uninhabitable. 

Read More »Climate emergency needs shift in economic thinking

When students demand what to be taught, let’s listen

Students. Anti-establishment. Rebellious, or looking for an excuse to be. Demanding. Campaigning. And learning courtesy of state funding.

That was the perception of many when I was at university (which was a while ago). One of my flatmates once even sneered at a charity spokesperson on the television saying she was probably a Guardian-reading recent graduate. What did he think he was going to become upon, er, graduating?

The bit about learning courtesy of state funding is no longer true. And these protesting students, they’re getting younger. They are still at school, many of them.

Read More »When students demand what to be taught, let’s listen