5 reasons to be optimistic about climate change
Think of climate change as a huge dark storm on the horizon. Humanity is a small boat, sailing heading straight towards it, and the first waves are starting to barrel into our prow.
But 2015 was the year where we started to turn the tiller, to feel that we can, at the eleventh hour, steer clear.
Here’s why 2015, despite the terrible storms battering Britain, gave us reasons to be hopeful about our future.
1 It’s the start of the end of the road for fossil fuels
Fossil fuels are in trouble, all over the world:
- Shell pulled out of Arctic oil and gas drilling;
- President Obama pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline;
- The UK Government announced it would end coal power by 2025.
2 Facts about green energy – it’s massive
Renewable energy continues its relentless global rise, and continues to fall in cost:
- In Spring 2015, renewable electricity generation outstripped coal for the first time in the UK;
- The costs of solar power have fallen 75% in the past 5 years, and continue to fall;
- Global investment in renewables is predicted to be $8,000 billion over the next 25 years;
- Offshore wind company Dong Energy are investing £6 billion in the Humber region in 2013-2019.
3 Establishment warnings about global warming
Calls for action on climate have become completely mainstream:
- The Governor of the Bank of England warned that without action climate change will lead to financial crises and falling living standards;
- The Pope made a powerful appeal to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics for action on climate and justice between generations;
- Over 1,000 non-state groups, from Tesco and Tata to Aviva and Cisco, have so far signed the Paris Pledge for Action on climate.
4 Public action on climate change is growing
People power is growing and growing, in the UK and globally:
- Local people and councillors stopped fracking near Preston, Lancashire;
- Local people and councillors stopped open-cast coal mining in Nant-Llesg, South Wales (pictured);
- Divestment campaigns globally have led to $2.6 trillion divested out of fossil fuel companies, a 50-fold increase in one year;
- Throughout the year, in countries across the planet, hundreds of thousands of people took part in demonstrations to demand more Government action, culminating in Paris…
5 The Paris climate talks
The Paris climate talks gave us extra hope, and were genuinely historic:
- 195 nations pledged to act to keep global temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees;
- The Paris climate talks were a signal that nations will stand up, and stand together, to tackle collective problems. President Obama described it as “what greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshalling our best efforts to save it”.
Climate change in 2016
We’ve a long way to go still.
Nations’ current pledges will lead to 3 degrees warming, so all countries need to raise their game.
So the shocking and ongoing UK floods need to be a massive wake-up call to the UK Government.
A warming world makes extreme rainfall ever more likely. So the Government continuing to put the brakes on the transition away from fossil fuels has real-life costs – to the people all over the North and West of the UK whose homes and livelihoods have been wrecked in the last month’s biblical rain.
In the aftermath of the UK floods, our Government should treat climate change as a security priority, and massively toughen its plans to act on climate, as well as improve flood defences.
It needs to announce an Apollo Programme style plan to get the UK off fossil fuels, with the job almost completely done by 2030. If we want a Britain and a world safe from climate disaster, we don’t have any time to waste.
Let’s have all hands on deck to make 2016 the year where humanity’s little ship starts to pull clear.
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