During a London Climate Week event at Chatham House* last week an audience member asked the panel of which I was a member “How are we going to make people pay for climate action?” Given that the questioner had introduced herself as representing the oil company, Shell, my flippant response was that I knew where to start – by taxing those who have done the most to cause a climate crisis, namely fossil fuel companies like Shell. In fact we should tax them out of business, because companies that continue to put short term profit before the continued existence of the human race don’t have a place in a climate-safe world.
Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which I was privileged to join Mayor Garcetti in launching this week, provides a template for a new era of climate leadership. being of Angelenos. It is a strategy to take forward the whole of society and thus moves climate change from a peripheral issue to the central organising principle of government.
Today and for the rest of the week normal business in London will be disrupted by Extinction Rebellion protestors trying to rouse their fellow citizens to face the climate emergency into which we have sleep-walked. Their tactics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if shutting down a few streets is what it takes to draw attention to the fact that we are now in a battle against the clock to prevent the (still entirely avoidable) destruction of the eco-system that makes possible human life on Earth, then that seems like an entirely rational response to me.
Last Friday I was inspired and shamed in equal measure by attending the huge ‘School Strike for Climate’ in Oslo. “You’ll die of old age, but I’ll die of climate change” accused one placard. “System change, not climate change” read many more. Thousands of children thronged, chanting into the square outside Parliament to try and make their parents’ generation, of which I am a member in denial, wake up and stop destroying the eco-system that enables humanity to thrive on the only planet we have access to.
Today a rare treat – a guest blog from Ms Markontour, reviewing ‘A natural history of the hedgerow and ditches, dykes and dry stone walls’, by John Wright: When I think of hedgerows I think of nature, green leaves, fragrant May blossom and noisy, busy birds. John Wright puts the hedgerow in historical context starting with pre-history which turns out to be fascinating. Piecing together archaeological and ancient written records, he walks us through time from the last ice age 10,000 years ago.
There has been so much said and written about the Green New Deal put before the United States’ Congress by the remarkable New York Representative, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, that I hesitate to add anything more. However, it really is worth noting how coherently the Green New Deal Resolution melds action to tackle climate change, with measures to counteract the obscene inequality and wage stagnation that has built up over decades of neo-liberal political supremacy in the USA (and my home country of Great Britain).
A superb report, ‘Food in the Anthropocene’, published last week by EAT and The Lancet sets out with tremendous clarity how “global food production constitutes the single largest driver of environmental degradation” in the world today. Moreover, it explains how “a diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal sourced foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits”. It is a must-read for policy-makers everywhere, but if you don’t have time even to peruse the hard-hitting executive summary, these are the key points: