Climate change: When will politicians take serious action? – Helen Martin
I’m an older SNP ticker. But looking back to my teens, 20s and 30s I have to admit I didn’t always vote, wasn’t passionately following any party, or bothered about who won. I loathed Margaret Thatcher, but not the Tories in general. It always seemed to be the case that, however many years one party was in power, the other would eventually take over. We swung between Conservative and Labour with a touch of Lib Dem.
Politics wasn’t the ongoing national obsession it is now. With Trump in charge of the US and Boris running the UK, some think they’re both nutcases and others dub them heroes. Some believe in Brexit while many Scots want the EU and another independence referendum. Ireland’s facing a growing support for Irish reunification – not everyone’s goal. Middle East wars and disasters, and China’s coronavirus dominate the news, while daily issues in Britain include under-funded benefits, housing, NHS and social care, and a constantly growing level of poverty and dependency on food banks.
In the 60s and 70s much of news used to come filtered and tailored from the government. Now that we have the internet, social media, live coverage of the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament, and access to foreign news stations, ordinary people discuss, debate and argue about everything. Politics has become more complex and public than ever.
The biggest, most threatening, international topic now is climate change and Earth’s disaster, but that’s further down the priority list for most politicians. Their focus is on what they feel they can deal with and how to maintain power. The chance of all opposing world governments working together to save the planet seems impossible.
Who of every electorate is most devoted to planet preservation? Today that’s younger voters again. They can study and see their future and that of their children turning into an horrific, apocalyptic nightmare with no happy ending. They don’t seriously expect politicians to deal with that because climate change tactics can conflict with GDP, exports, industries, and would cost so much that projects such as HS2 and an extra Heathrow runway would have to wait, or be ruled out.
Perhaps the simplest solution would be a global body enforcing rules on every government. Would all national governments be up for that? Probably not.
The whole world has to change radically, not something politicians have ever had to deal with.
Who will impose a short-term deadline for massively reducing plastic across the world, banning fossil fuel-driven vehicles, household gas use, limiting air travel, forbidding bombs and gunfire? Who will explain how vital animals, insects, sea creatures and wildlife have to be protected – for our survival? Who will criminalise people taking over animal habitats, felling billions of trees to create vast commercial farms, or producing toxic products and waste? Damage is accelerating, far more rapidly than anyone expected.
In a world where Botswana is now selling licences to kill elephants, Japan has reinstated whaling, everywhere (including Scottish estates) makes money from trophy hunters and shooters of mammals and birds, and home owners anywhere are dooming pollenating creatures such as bees by turning gardens into concrete slabs, pebbles or fake grass, which body or government would obey Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough by condemning human beings as the Earth’s destroyers? Will the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Cop26, produce significant, compulsory policies? Or will it be nothing more than a debate with no means of forcing governments to comply immediately.
Of course, we all want our countries’ governments to improve income and welfare, employment and health. But what’s the point if we don’t first stop killing off the planet?