Phelim Mac Cafferty: We need to talk about climate change

Phelim Mac Cafferty is the Green candidate for Hove SUS-170405-101701001
Phelim Mac Cafferty is the Green candidate for Hove SUS-170405-101701001

As I write this, the outcome of the election isn’t clear.

What is clear is that the electorate has been denied a meaningful say on climate change once again. Throughout the entire election the bigger parties barely mentioned the environment, while the BBC gave the Green Party just 19 seconds on the evening news to explain why we need a radical approach on climate change.

The last few weeks ought to be a wake-up call to the new government. Last week the Conservative Government was charged- for the third time- in the high court over its abject failure to tackle air pollution. Climate-change denier President Trump started the process of pulling out of the Paris Climate agreement. On Tuesday climate scientists reported that a crack in the Antarctic ice shelf the size of East and West Sussex, Surrey and Kent combined is set to break off, forming the world’s largest recorded iceberg. On Wednesday four people tragically died as the country was battered by 60mph gales and three inches of rain.

We are being repeatedly warned that a warmer world will lead to more extreme weather events – with awful environmental and human costs. That’s why the Green Party is demanding bold action on climate change now. They are among the policies we really don’t mind the other parties ‘borrowing.’ Despite all of this the Conservatives believe in granting even greater subsidies for fossil fuels. Brighton and Hove is one of the top 40 cities for air pollution; rising air pollution causes 1 in 20 premature deaths yet both Labour and the Conservatives support airport expansion. Both back the dirty expensive nuclear power relic at Hinkley. Both back Brexit, despite it threatening hard-won environmental protections that safeguard the quality of our food and water.

Einstein is said to have summed up insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s tempting to believe he had mainstream politicians talking about climate change in mind. Many politicians want to ignore the facts, but unchecked climate change will become the deciding factor in elections if we do not take action now to reverse it.

Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.

Note: This article was written before the election result was announced this morning (June 9).