Yesterday, 1st May 2019, the UK Parliament became the first in the world to pass a motion declaring an “environment and climate emergency”.
This is largely a symbolic measure but let’s not doubt he enormous importance of this unexpected move. All credit to opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for initiating the motion (Labour traditionally has not been the most environmentally aware party) and to Michael Gove (Conservative, Secretary of State for Environment) for meeting members of the Extinction Rebellion movement, who so very recently staged mass protests in London. [I’m an active Green Party member myself]
Time will tell whether or not there is anything more than greenwash in the government acceptance of the vote, but I believe they will be held to account if too little progress is made.
We are now being told what we can do to help limit climate change, and this is quite right. However they must not just say “over to you” and put all the responsibility on us. My concern right now that the government legislates, enables, and does not stand in the way of the necessary actions. Here are my most important points, that I believe the government must tackle:
- Energy: reverse their ban on subsidies for new onshore wind projects; bring back incentives for builders and householders to install solar pv and other renewable energy; start a nationwide large-scale push to retrofit our poorest housing stock with high standard insulation and double glazing (thereby also improving health and living conditions)
- Trees: initiate a massive tree-planting programme, using native trees for maximum carbon capture, bringing together expertise from organisations such as the Woodland Trust
- Fossil fuels: move as far away as possible from fossil fuels, starting with revoking and rejecting any plans for more coal mines; ban any fracking of oil/gas wells, which are carbon producers as well as being a risk to our geology, landscapes, health and water supply
So that’s a start. Time for the government to put its money where its mouth is.
Photo credit: Victoria Hulatt, banner created by Victoria Hulatt and Jenny Cole, taken at Extinction Rebellion in London
Diana Morgan is a freelance blog post writer and eco-retailer. Having been concerned about the environment since her teens, she is one of a team of climate ambassadors for the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.