It’s about time we recognized that we’ve been in a state of climate change emergency for some time
The leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, intends to force a vote in the House of Commons to declare a national environmental and climate emergency after the publication of confidential documents revealing that the Conservative government led by Teresa May has spent only a small part of a fund created in 2015 to promote initiatives to reduce or eliminate emissions and pollution.
Declaring a climate change emergency would require urgent action to avoid global warming passing 1.5ºC, which would mean a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 compared to the levels of 2010, with zero emissions by 2050. These objectives will imply faster deployment of measures than the vast majority of governments have proposed up to now, along with a new mindset and awareness of the dangers we face.
For the moment, with Labour in opposition, Corbyn can only put pressure on May’s government to make clear its position on a subject that the recent high-profile protests led by Extinction Rebellion have pushed onto the political agenda. A declaration of a climate change emergency in a country like the United Kingdom could also trigger collective reflection and similar moves in other countries.
We might as well get used to talking about a climate change emergency, because this is where we are, regardless of the powerful interests still trying to deny it. The Club of Rome outlines climate change emergency in a document calling for a rapid economic transition to decarbonize our economies: this isn’t about pressing the panic button, but instead, moving from a mindset where we are still telling ourselves: “This isn’t a serious problem yet” to recognizing the likelihood of warming rising to levels beyond control and then triggering a spiral, a process the planet has been warning us about for some time. Declaring a state of emergency over this issue is more than justified, as is the anger at governments that have ignored the problem for years to the point of criminal negligence. Requiring by law that immediate emergency action is taken is fundamental, not for any political or economic agenda, but for something much more important: our survival.
It is essential that as a society we understand the importance of what is happening right now and the need to make radical decisions that will change how we live. Only by supporting the declaration of a climate change emergency can we change our mindset and overcome the challenges we face. This means changing our habits as consumers, how we vote and even how we address the issue: neither skepticism or catastrophism are any use. All this will bring many changes, and also many opportunities.
The reality is that we’ve been in a state of climate change emergency for some time. The United Kingdom may be about to officially declare it, which could mark a turning point. We can no longer ignore this issue; we need to understand that.
(En español, aquí)