The politicians are failing us.
Even if they keep the promises they made in Paris, which is unlikely, most scientists think that temperatures would still rise above 2 degrees. Because beyond 2 degrees runaway global warming will take hold that means that if we cannot peg the increase below 2 we might as well do nothing at all. China says its emissions will not peak until 2030. An elementary calculation suggests that will be far too late. Christina Fugueres, the UN climate chief, says that at Paris none of the major polluters were concerned about the future of the planet at all but only their own advantage. In the UK climate was hardly mentioned in the 2015 election. Even the Green Party didn’t put it at the top of its agenda.
The UK Government at the time of Paris undid most of even the feeble climate legislation put in place by the previous coalition, reduced green subsidies and increased those for fossil fuel extraction. Only a week before Paris, George Osborne reneged on a commitment to spend £1bn on developing carbon capture and the first thing the politicians did on return from Paris was to open national parks to fracking. This is despite the fact that every serious scientific study (Cornell in 2009, Harvard in 2012 and Tyndall) has reported that fracked gas is even worse than coal because of the methane emissions. Over twenty years methane is 72 times worse than CO2, just about the time we have left to save the planet. Any sane person who cares about their children, faced with the enormity of which the scientists are warning us and the little time we have left, would surely say we should put climate change right at the top of the political agenda and strain every nerve and muscle to get rid of fossil fuels a.s.a.p. But this is not the attitude of the politicians. Full of self-congratulation and complacency after Paris they show little sign of determination and urgency. Nevertheless, Paris has established the principle that after every five years nations should re-appraise their efforts. We can influence those re-appraisals but the politicians are only going to take serious action if it is clear that that is what the public wants.
Hence the need for Climate 100.
The 100 stands for 100% all out effort to get rid of fossil fuels. But it’s not only fossil fuels. The different aspects of the immense crisis the world is now facing are deeply interconnected with each other. We mustn’t forget soil loss (go vegan or almost vegan and organic if you can), species loss (40% of all species by 2100) and automation (40% of the present work force out of a job within twenty years). We need to think a lot about automation. Underneath all this are our attitudes. We have to stop being concerned about money above all things and start cherishing the earth and our common humanity above all things. If half the work force are out of a job it might force us into very different attitudes. It’s important that your group not only does stuff but also thinks a lot about and tries to imagine what a sane humane future could be like. Behind the indolence of the politicians is the apathy of the public. We need to awaken, energize and inspire the public. The idea of Climate 100 is to form committees in as many places as possible to spread awareness, inspire and above all spread determination and optimism, and to put pressure on your local politicians. Would you like to start or join such a committee in your area? Or your university? Or your school? Or your work place?