John Knight's October 2021 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

19 October 2021

Have you noticed that other parties are talking about becoming greener, about net zero and about protecting the environment? But do they really mean it?

COP26 - the climate change conference, to be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - starts in Glasgow on November 1st.

COP26 will be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted, with around 30,000 attendees expected. Many people see it as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement, when all the signatories to the UNFCC agreed to keep temperatures well below 2 degrees - better still 1.5 degrees - Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

COP26 is critical because it’s the first moment when countries must set out more ambitious goals for ending their contribution to climate change under the Paris Agreement.

Even though the prime minister is promising action for the climate, pledging all Britain's electricity to be green by 2035 and calling this a ‘turning point for humanity’ ahead of COP26, the fact is that Britain is still:

  • Talking about a new coal mine in Cumbria
  • Considering a new oil field off Shetland
  • Foreseeing a £27bn road building programme
  • Planning airport expansions

Although Cheshire East Council talks up its green credentials, claiming to be a “Carbon Neutral Council”, in reality we continue to see major roadbuilding and speculative housebuilding on greenbelt land, alongside the rejection of “20’s Plenty” (reduced speed-limits in all towns), which would have reduced emissions as well as improving road safety.

In reality, we are way off our own climate targets. This requires our attention. Because, although it’s great to see other parties moving in the right direction, we have to make sure that talk becomes action and that climate initiatives don't end up as just another string of empty pledges.

As Greens we know that they must be made into tough targets and real legislation that can change every part of society. Only then can we achieve true system change that directly addresses the root causes of our social and ecological emergencies and truly transforms our society.

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