Cli­mate change is more im­por­tant than Brexit

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

For an or­gan­i­sa­tion that ran the in­spir­ing “Keep it in the ground” cam­paign, it was a shame you didn’t make David At­ten­bor­ough’s warn­ing about the col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion (Re­port, 4 De­cem­ber) the lead story on your front page. To have no men­tion any­where of the 12 years we (at best) have to make any dif­fer­ence is a shock­ing omis­sion. Cli­mate change is the great­est is­sue the world is fac­ing and read­ers can’t have the mes­sage high­lighted enough.

Can I also ask that you don’t print any let­ters sug­gest­ing that all we need to do is turn our ther­mo­stat down and con­sume more re­spon­si­bly? As Naomi

Klein il­lus­trates in This Changes Ev­ery­thing, the idea that cli­mate change can be solved by per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity alone is a fal­lacy (and one of the rea­sons why we are in this mess).

This is­sue re­quires pol­i­cy­mak­ers ev­ery­where to act now but they won’t do it if they don’t think peo­ple care, which is why it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the press to re­port the dan­ger we are in.

Re­becca Fricker

Loughton, Es­sex

The col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion is on the hori­zon, David At­ten­bor­ough told the UN’s an­nual cli­mate con­fer­ence in Poland. We are priv­i­leged that the first peo­ple’s seat at the con­fer­ence was filled by one of our great­est na­tional trea­sures. A few words from him in Blue Planet 2 led to the start of a trans­for­ma­tion of our re­la­tion­ship with plas­tic.

But, this is the thin end of the wedge com­pared with the changes re­quired to en­able our chil­dren to live out their lives peace­fully. We need to rad­i­cally change our re­la­tion­ship with what we eat, how we heat our houses, where our power comes from and how we trans­port our­selves. Four years ago the econ­o­mist Lord Stern said we need an ef­fort that sur­passes the com­bined ef­forts of the first and sec­ond world wars to tackle the ap­proach­ing ex­is­ten­tial threat.

To meet the changes we need strong po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, na­tion­ally and lo­cally. I look around the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal land­scape and see very few peo­ple from any party will­ing to meet the chal­lenge.

Since this year’s IPCC re­port, both Bris­tol and Manch­ester have voted unan­i­mously to de­clare a cli­mate emer­gency. Our na­tional gov­ern­ment is fo­cus­ing on Brexit, which is merely a dis­trac­tion in the face of what is the great­est threat our species has ever faced.

We need a new gen­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to emerge and put our col­laps­ing cli­mate at the heart of all their poli­cies.

Cas­par Hughes

Ex­eter, Devon

Your ed­i­to­rial’s rev­e­la­tion (6 De­cem­ber) that the 2014-16 car­bon re­duc­tions were the re­sult of an eco­nomic slow­down that helped fuel the rise of pop­ulism ap­pears daunt­ing for fu­ture cli­mate-change ini­tia­tives. How­ever, ris­ing car­bon emis­sions and ex­treme rightwing elec­toral ad­vances can be re­versed. This will re­quire a mas­sive in­crease in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity aris­ing from en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies that are clearly seen to im­prove prospects for the ma­jor­ity through an em­pha­sis on green jobs in ev­ery com­mu­nity.

The ob­vi­ous start­ing point is to make ev­ery home, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial build­ing en­ergy ef­fi­cient world­wide. In the US this is one of the cen­tral de­mands of the youngest of the new mem­bers of Congress, Alexan­dria Oca­sio–Cortez, with her call for a select com­mit­tee for a green new deal, an ini­tia­tive sup­ported by Bernie San­ders. Also key will be the rapid tran­si­tion to re­new­ables and low-car­bon lo­cal trans­port sys­tems.

To re­duce po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion to such a shift will re­quire cash to help com­mu­ni­ties ini­tially threat­ened by such mea­sures, from scrap­page schemes for pol­lut­ing cars, sub­si­dies for a rapid growth in elec­tric pub­lic and pri­vate trans­port, through to job con­ver­sion schemes for Pol­ish coal min­ers threat­ened by the lat­est cli­mate talks.

The mas­sive amount of money re­quired should come from higher but fairer taxes, while ham­mer­ing tax dodgers, with in­creased pub­lic ex­pen­di­ture and in­cen­tives for af­flu­ent savers to in­vest in such schemes. If this proves in­ad­e­quate

Re­becca Fricker

then green quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing should also be in­tro­duced. The world re­ally has no other choice.

Colin Hines

East Twick­en­ham, Mid­dle­sex

We are hurtling to­wards a cli­mate apoc­a­lypse (no hy­per­bole), and yet the one thing every­one can do is given sur­pris­ingly lit­tle pub­lic­ity: change your en­ergy sup­plier to one which only uses re­new­able en­ergy.

We re­cently changed our sup­plier to one of sev­eral com­pa­nies of­fer­ing 100% re­new­able en­ergy. The change-over was easy, and we now keep our house snug­gly warm, com­fort­able in the knowl­edge that we are help­ing to save the planet. Please, every­one, change to a green sup­plier.

To­gether we can save the world.

Daniel Em­lyn-Jones

Ox­ford

Be­fore claim­ing that the wheel, agri­cul­ture and gene-edited girls are “Mono­lith mo­ments” (Let­ters, 5 De­cem­ber), re­mem­ber that the mono­liths in 2001: A Space Odyssey were of alien ori­gin. Alas, there is no sign to­day of any alien com­ing to help us avoid the col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion pre­dicted by David At­ten­bor­ough at the UN cli­mate change sum­mit. We have to do that by our­selves.

Graeme Cot­tam

Peters­field, Hamp­shire

Rather than be­ing “most wor­ry­ing”, the UN re­port sug­gest­ing “that the rel­a­tively good per­for­mance of the years 2014-16 in re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions was the re­sult of the eco­nomic slow­down” (Ed­i­to­rial, 6 De­cem­ber) in­di­cates that we ur­gently need more eco­nomic slow­downs.

David Mur­ray

Walling­ton, Sur­rey

This is­sue re­quires all pol­i­cy­mak­ers to act now but they won’t do it if they don’t think that peo­ple care

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