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The impacts of the climate and ecological crisis are becoming increasingly apparent. July 2019 was the hottest month on record. In September, Hurricane Dorian, the second strongest Atlantic storm on record, devastated the Bahama’s, and earlier this month parts of Derbyshire and south Yorkshire suffered severe flooding after a month’s worth of rain fell in one day. We are also in the midst of the sixth mass extinction with up to 200 species going extinct every day.
In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that we have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe, based on the number of years we have left until the carbon budget is used up for 1.5°C of warming. Realistically, we do not have the luxury of 12 years (now 11 years). Global carbon emissions need to peak immediately and then fall dramatically every year to achieve the 1.5°C goal. The time for action is now, and with every year of inaction, the potential to prevent warming above 1.5 degrees diminishes ever further.
The climate and ecological crisis is the defining issue of our time, and in the general election on December 12th we need to elect a government that is committed to taking the necessary action to tackle this emergency. Jake Woodier from UK Student Climate Network says in The Ecologist, “if we proceed to elect a government that isn’t prepared to lead us towards a rapid transition away from the fossil fuel economy, we’re locked in to a further five years of inaction, ensuring we lose nearly half the time available to embark on this necessarily ambitious task to secure our futures. There is no time to delay.”
According to a poll conducted in September by Opinium, the majority of people in the UK say the climate crisis will influence how they vote in the December general election, with young voters feeling particularly strongly about the issue. More than half of those polled (54%) said climate change will affect how they vote, with the proportion rising to 74% for under-25s. The poll of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and over was conducted before the October Extinction Rebellion protests, but after the global climate strikes in September, which saw 7.5 million people taking to the streets.
A separate YouGov poll suggests that the majority of the UK public would support a radical plan to transform the economy and tackle the climate crisis, highlighting the growing awareness of the scale of the crisis, and the increasingly radical policy solutions the public is willing to support.
Fort William’s School climate striker and Lochaber Times environmental columnist Holly Gillibrand recently tweeted “the #GE2019 must NOT be about Brexit. Vote instead for a liveable planet, a biosphere and a sustainable future. Vote for what really matters – life on Earth”.
This general election needs to move beyond Brexit. There is no time to delay. We need to vote for the climate if we are to secure a future without catastrophic climate and ecological breakdown.