There's just 12 years left to keep our environmental inhabitable. Campaigning from below is crucial; we can't depend on the climate dealmakers, writes Nathan Street
In December 2018, governments from across the world will meet in Katowice, Poland for the latest UN climate summit. They aim to discuss progress - or lack thereof – in meeting targets to achieve the goals of the Paris climate deal of 2015.
Cynics may predict that it will be the latest in a series of talks high on rhetoric but without adequate action, nor even fully agreed action at all.
It will be up to the movements from below to ramp up the pressure to make it clear that such failure is unacceptable. One such important action will be high attendance at the Together for Climate Justice protest on Saturday 1st December. This can be another step to further build a broad, interlinked and mass climate movement.
Looming climate disaster has recently and all too briefly hit the news headlines in light of the release of a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that the developed world has just 12 years to keep a maximum temperature rise of 1.5 degrees, which to be achieved needs “urgent and unprecedented changes”. It is telling that whilst this report is in fact modest in its analysis about the scope of the problem, it has still received widespread attention and support, suggesting the sentiment and importance of environmental matters is considered of increasing concern.
Results from the 2018 British Attitudes Survey show that 70% of the British public are either extremely, very or somewhat worried about climate change. A survey conducted by YouGov and ClientEarth found that 62% of people believed the government was doing too little to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change and 48% believe it would be acceptable for UK citizens to take the government to court if it failed to keep its Paris Agreement pledges.
The Committee on Climate Change finds that the UK is not doing nearly enough with regards to aviation, the car industry, farming industries and insulation in the building of housing to come close to meeting targets, or to plant trees and plan how to transition to electric cars. Whilst energy transition has been lauded, there has been a resurgence for coal, with a 15% increase in emissions in September alone.
The environmental movement itself though has been bolstered recently by some successes. In July there was a notable green/climate block in the huge demonstration in opposition to Trump’s visit to the UK.
In Yorkshire, Third Energy has abandoned fracking schemes as it could not achieve planning permission. Unfortunately, in Lancashire a local council’s decision to stop Cuadrilla from fracking there was undone at a national level. In the last month, fracking has restarted there, and 4 earthquakes hit Blackpool within days of this.
In recent weeks there has been an overturn of the convictions of 3 peaceful anti fracking activists who partook in the blocking of trucks with fracking equipment in Lancashire and received 15-16 month sentences for public nuisance as a result. This was an unprecedented punishment which had been widely criticised as excessive, being the first custodial sentence of its kind for environmental activists since 1932. Furthermore, it was issued by a judge whose parents and sister are directors of a company that supplied fracking facilities. Publicity of the initial injustice and solidarity helped contribute to this victory and it could give further confidence to the movement.
Campaign Against Climate Change's protest Together for Climate Justice is on Saturday 1 December. Protesters will assemble in London at the Polish Embassy in Portland Place from 12.00pm.