It’s time to grab the opportunity and place the environmental agenda back on the top of the To Do list, says North Dorset Green Party’s Ken Huggins
I love rollercoasters, with their mash up of anticipation, exhilaration and anxiety. There’s something about their manic twists and turns, the grindingly slow climbs to a peak followed by the gut-wrenching drop into a trough. Some have a corkscrew, where briefly you don’t know which way is up.
An appropriate metaphor for the present state of UK politics perhaps – but I’m also minded of another ride I remember. Called the Black Hole, in near total darkness it plummeted downwards at breakneck speed in a death spiral …
After the crashing end to Truss’s brief attempt at government, the hope was that Sunak would be a steadying influence as Prime Minister. That hope was rocked with the announcement of his new cabinet, which included the removal from cabinet meetings of Alok Sharma (the UK’s president of COP26) and climate minister Graham Stuart. In spite of his previous promise to prioritise the environment, Sunak also announced that he would not attend the COP27 summit because of ‘pressing domestic commitments’. And it was confirmed that King Charles would remain effectively banned from attending the summit.
This all sent totally the wrong message – that the environmental crisis can wait – when the opposite is true. For decades politicians have delayed taking action to tackle environmental issues, including our reliance on fossil fuels. This is now costing us dearly, especially those who can least afford it. The longer we leave it the more it will cost, in lives and livelihoods as well as finance. Some argue that we can’t afford action, but inaction will cost vastly more. Plus we have a golden opportunity to rebuild the world economy in a truly sustainable way that focuses on quality of life, not on the accumulation of money and stuff.
There has now thankfully been another screeching government U-turn, and Sunak will attend COP27 after all. Now the UK needs to lead international cooperation to take the actions needed to urgently address the environmental crisis. It is the most pressing issue of our time, and dealing with it properly can create a better life for us all.
Let’s get that rollercoaster heading upwards !