By Sophie Squire
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Fight to push climate change up the political agenda

Climate change is a critical issue which is being ignored in the election, and neither the Labour nor Tories offer an answer
Issue 2809
Floods in Cambridgeshire, which are happening more regularly because of climate change

There will be more and more floods in Britain because of climate change (Picture: Andrew Richardson)

Unending downpours, frequent violent storms and flooding. This is what a new report has said could be the new normal in Britain in just a decade.

A group of top climate scientists recently released analysis that said we could suffer near-constant rainfall in some parts of the year and more “supercell storms”, or mini tornadoes.

But watching Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer’s election debate last week you wouldn’t think a climate crisis was imminent.

They made vague gestures about the climate crisis for only five minutes.

Sunak didn’t even propose anything new if he was elected. Instead, he said he would “stick to the targets” the Tories had already put in place.

These Tory targets include ensuring that all of Britain’s electricity comes from low carbon sources by 2035 and increasing offshore wind and solar power capacity by five times.

The prime minister shouldn’t boast about maintaining these already very tame targets.

According to the Climate Change Committee, an independent public body, the government is currently set to miss all of these targets.

Starmer said he wants to achieve a “clean electricity system by 2030” with renewables at its centre.

He also promised to roll out Great British Energy—a proposed publicly-owned power company.

The proposed model isn’t a full nationalisation of the energy industry, but sets up a public-owned company that competes with the other energy corporations in the market.

It means other corporate bosses are still free to rake in profit. The lack of focus on environmental issues hasn’t come out of nowhere.

Both Sunak and Starmer are united in thinking that ordinary people are too stupid or consumed by economic concerns to care about the planet.

They see it as another “woke” issue that won’t win votes.

In 2019, when millions took to the streets and students took part in climate strikes, those in power were forced to concede to making stronger environmental pledges.

In that year the Tories said they would deliver “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”.

But over time they have dropped these pledges, including abandoning a plan to use pesticides more sustainably, more laws over deforestation and a strategy for dealing with chemicals being pumped into rivers.

The North Sea Transition Authority, which is under the control of the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, said it had recently handed 31 more oil and gas licences to the bosses.

And in 2021, Labour promised to spend some £28 billion a year until 2030 to cut emissions and develop green industries.

However, earlier this year, Labour drastically cut that figure to just £4.7 billion.

Both parties are wrong to think that ordinary people won’t notice when they abandon their climate pledges.

When the Office for National Statistics asked people last month about the most critical issues in Britain, climate change came in fourth place, ahead of immigration and crime.

The election campaign so far shows that the Tories and Labour want to put climate change on the back burner.

But the climate movement has already shown that it can push the issue to the top of the agenda.

And climate change will be projected onto the electoral stage when people take to the streets for the Restore Nature Now demonstration on 22 June.

It’s backed by hundreds of environmental charities and groups, including Extinction Rebellion, the National Trust and the WWF conservation charity.

The protest is a chance to show that climate change is still a central issue.

  • Restore Nature Now demonstration, Saturday 22 June, assemble 12pm, Park Lane, London W1K

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