Let's commit with renewed vigour to European action on global warmingby Caroline Lucas / July 25, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
If Brexit stopped, the UK could commit with renewed vigour to vital European and international negotiations on climate change. With the EU set to adopt long-term climate targets, which could in turn set agendas across the world, the UK could provide a vital counter-balance to the less-ambitious eastern European states as we approach the global post-Paris framework in 2020. The most important Convention on Biodiversity in a decade is set to happen in that same year—so the same goes for protecting wildlife.
As it stands, while the Brexit negotiations drag on, the biodiversity and climate change crises continue to worsen. For every minute that we lose in the fight to protect our natural world, extreme weather events—flash-floods and wild-fires, heat-waves and droughts— become more common, and precious species across our world are further threatened. In the UK, the swift has seen its population decline by half in the last 20 years, while in the Shetlands the number of puffins on the island in early spring has dropped from 33,000 to 570 since 2000.
These next few years are a crunch time for the environment. But the government dithers with plans for a toothless post-EU green watchdog and fails to pull together even the basic policies needed to meet our climate targets, the opportunities to protect the foundations of our life on Earth—the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil that grows our food—are slipping away. The government plays games with our future relationship with Europe, but the planet hasn’t pressed pause. It’s time the politicians did.