Will Theresa May leave a legacy or pass down a death sentence?

Given that it is now agreed it is not just possible but necessary to reach carbon neutrality, why are we waiting until 2050? The targets – which were set out in the CCC report – pass the burden of holding the world to 1.5C on to the shoulders of the poorest countries who did the least to cause the problem. [1] Every year that goes by before emissions get to zero, increases the risk of triggering catastrophic tipping points in the climate system. 

Greta Thunberg says the house is on fire. The PM says we will put it out in 30 years. If Theresa May wants to have a legacy we say think bigger. We need to take action now – not next year, next decade, not by 2050. 

Politicians only seem able to contemplate action on climate change when thinking about their legacy. If the current system encourages politicians to suppress their true feelings about ambitious action, then that is going to require systemic solutions. Let’s reform democracy and listen to the people: we desperately need a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice. 

Get-out clause

The 2050 target is based on spending just 1-2% of GDP to decarbonise our economy over 30 years (with a nice get out clause to the legally binding target – thank you Treasury. Let’s see what the 2019 budget holds, we all know that where the money goes, is where the action happens). 

That’s not an emergency response. Is that really all we are prepared to invest in protecting our futures from calamity? From the perspective of young people, it is an outrage that those who make the decisions won’t be around to experience the consequences. 

Let’s not mince words, 2050 is a death sentence: people are already dying and this will only get worse with far off dates.

Were we to put our minds to it and do what is required to mobilise society to address the threat with the seriousness it deserves, the UK could embrace transformative change and decarbonise in years not decades.

We welcome that the Prime Minister is finally talking about the emergency. This is a testament to the public pressure – including the more than 1,000 people willingly arrested for this cause – that is forcing politicians to confront the existential reality of the climate and ecological emergency. But it is not nearly enough.

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