TIME TO DEFEND PLANET EARTH
Climate change and the extinction of species is hitting the front page and our tv screens as the ecological breakdown unfolds around the world. The big corporations tearing down the rainforests, plundering the world’s oceans and digging up the remaining fossil fuels have brought the planet to the brink. Humans have long acquired the power to destroy nature but the penny is now dropping that this war is increasingly a war against us.
It’s time everyone stood up to them and held corporations and governments to account. And if you ever doubt what difference one person can really make to our planet, remember Greta Thunberg. Greta is the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl who began protesting against climate change – alone – outside parliament in Stockholm, one Friday last August. Earlier this year, the climate strikes she inspired brought a million young people, all over the world, onto the streets. Those young people recognise that our politicians and corporate leaders have failed us. It’s been clear for years that climate change and species loss poses a huge threat to our future, yet worldwide they have wilfully ducked their responsibility to act. Here in the UK, politicians have hidden behind big talk while failing to deliver on the UK’s carbon reduction promises. Corporations have talked about ‘sustainability’ while continuing with business as usual.
What Greenpeace do
Greenpeace has been at the forefront of campaigns to stop palm oil destroying the rainforests in South East Asia, blocking oil corporations opening up new frontiers in places like the Arctic and driving solutions like offshore wind farms. But we are stepping up our ambition. We have declared a climate emergency, throwing down the gauntlet to the government and big corporations that business as usual is no longer acceptable. Radical action is the only way to achieve the level of change we now need.
It’s perhaps not that surprising, but depressing none the less, that our energy minister said in the House of Commons at the end of April: “The right hon. Gentleman asked about the declaration of a climate emergency. The thing is, I do not know what that would entail. I could stand here and say, “I believe there is a climate emergency,” and he could say that, too ….The question is: what are we going to do about it?”
Well you might think the energy minister would know the answer. But clearly not so we have attempted to answer the question for her:
- There can be no excuse for opening up more fossil fuel reserves – keep it in the ground, everywhere, now, and phase-down existing production.
- We need a really ambitious date for phasing out the internal combustion engine in cars and vans. It’s time to recognise that the car is no longer king – so clamp down on new road building and reallocate existing road space away from cars, towards public transport, walking and cycling.
- At least 80% of our electricity should be from renewables by 2030 – a tripling from current levels.
- Put an end to the destruction of the natural world – on land and at sea – to protect the climate as well as biodiversity. We need big, bold targets for habitat restoration and rewilding. This should include planting at least 700 million trees in the UK over the next decade and ensuring that at least 30% of our seas are fully protected.
- And alongside this we need a radical shift in diets and investment in agro-ecology and organic farming. We need to reduce red, white and processed meat consumption by 80% from current levels.
- And finally we need to extensively insulate all existing and new buildings, and install renewable generation on site where possible.
These are practical actions our government and corporations would need to take in order to achieve a zero carbon economy over the next couple of decades. And they are actions that will create new jobs and industries, empower local authorities and communities to engage with the transition as well as giving a central role for the government to lead domestically and internationally.
Of course some things are easier to do than others, and some will require big changes in short order. But we know what we have to do, and by when. Phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, including ending the reign of the internal combustion engine, halting the destruction of the natural world, changing our diets, cleaning up our energy supply whilst reducing demand, and putting our survival tomorrow before profits today.
For more information visit: Greenpeace UK