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GE 2019: Our Last Chance to Stop Climate Change?

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The upcoming General Election on the 12th December is a time of anticipation for many, with significant discussion in the media regarding newly updated manifestos and publicised debates between parties. Some of the most serious and topical issues are frequently flagged up; including our National Health Service, our immigration policy, and now, the Environment.

The rate of global warming:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 stated that global temperatures are highly likely to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. Furthermore, they stressed the additional concerns they had if global warming reached 2°C, with the risks posed to humans, eco-systems and land being significantly more serious. The IPCC’s research demonstrates the pressing necessity to implement and enforce measures that will help to slow down, and combat, the progression of global warming.

Political pressure:Concerns about climate change are rife amongst the UK public which is placing greater pressure on political parties to implement meaningful change in order to effectively mitigate the effects of global warming and stay below the 1.5°C or 2°C levels. The Labour party’s rumoured manifesto is streaked with green this year; promising that firms failing to act on climate change will be delisted from the London Stock Exchange; a bold undertaking that would create a greener economy and provide an incentive for businesses to comply with climate targets and responsibilities. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, between 1988 and 2015 just 100 companies were responsible for a total of 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This illustrates a key opportunity for the government to prioritise combatting global warming over growing the economy.

Disappointingly, the Labour party have already rescinded their previous plan for the UK to produce net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, despite the Party members backing the target in September. ‘Net-zero’ means that any emissions are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. This failure to commit to a 2030 deadline is underwhelming and has fallen short of promising what the Green party have. In what the Green party have termed their ‘transformative’ manifesto, there is a commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, in addition to a proposed “sustainable economy bill” and “future generations bill” to strengthen their assurances of a greener future. Contrastingly, the Liberal Democrats have promised to meet a 2045 target for net-zero emissions, and the Conservatives have omitted to identify a clear deadline for this at all so far.

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Our last chance for change:The outcome of this election will shape how the UK approaches climate change over the next four years, which could either lead to a green revolution, or could put us firmly on track to exceed the 1.5°C/ 2°C targets. The Green party, while passionate about combatting climate change, do not usually garner enough support during elections and therefore are unlikely to be able to deliver their ambitious promises. The Labour party, despite weakening their stance on the net-zero emissions target, seem to offer the best strategy and most commitment towards a greener future for the UK, with the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives failing to provide adequate plans and targets for tackling the climate catastrophe. This election will signal a pivotal moment for the climate movement, as a continued Conservative government is unlikely to prioritise the climate catastrophe. Consequently, your vote will be a vote for the future of our planet, of future generations, of societies in climates far less forgiving than the UK’s; this general election really may be our last chance to stop climate change before more damage is done.

By Charlotte Beardwell

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