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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK

Voters must demand that all candidates and parties commit to radical action on the climate crisis

A cardboard protest banner, crafted by schoolchildren, displayed around Cambridge University's Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in a bid to spark conversation about the climate crisis. It reads 'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but the most adaptable to change.'
A cardboard protest banner, crafted by schoolchildren, displayed around Cambridge University's Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in a bid to spark conversation about the climate crisis.
Photograph: Cambridge University/PA

David King’s passionate advocacy is a timely reminder in the run-up to the UK and European elections of the imperative to persuade, or force, governments, markets and corporations to immediately prioritise “reducing emissions, removing excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) … repairing ecosystems; and strengthening local and global resilience” (Humanity’s survival is still within our grasp – just. But only if we take these radical steps, 27 May).

To make this happen, while raising the huge amounts of money needed for the transition and enabling disadvantaged nations and communities, voters should demand that all candidates and parties commit to the following:

1) Make global agreements to keep planetary heating well below 2C, and to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030, statutory obligations. They are critical for delivering the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

2) Ramp up taxes on carbon/GHG emissions, financial transactions, ecosystem-destroying operations (and the goods produced thereby), plastics and resource waste. This will further restrain the corporations profiting from the climate-nature crisis.

3) Use these revenues solely as subsidies and grants for local government, households (especially low-income) and small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in energy efficiency, renewables and resource conservation. Globally, a transaction tax of just 0.5% would raise hundreds of billions of dollars for funding the SDGs, climate reparations, and critical nature conservation and restoration programmes, and be primarily paid by the wealthiest top 10%.

4) Switch subsidies for climate-nature-destroying industries to low-zero energy and fuels, regenerative agriculture and forestry, and the circular economy to reduce resource waste and minimise land and seafloor mining. The International Energy Agency calculated that direct global subsidies for coal, gas and oil alone exceeded $1tn in 2022.

5) Use national and local government procurement budgets to support climate-nature positive businesses.

Finally, after the election, transform the energy of protest marches and petitions into continuous constituency pressure on ministers and MPs to deliver.
Charles Secrett
Brighton, East Sussex

• Well done for publishing yet another massive kick in the backside of world governments from David King, chair of the global Climate Crisis Advisory Group.

King’s radical prescription of 4 Rs – reduce emissions, build resilience, repair ecosystems, remove greenhouse gases – might seem unachievable. Politicians around the globe continue to succumb to the profit-focused siren song of the fossil-fuel industry, granting them ever more gas and oil drilling and refining licences, instead of paying attention to the views of their citizens, the great majority of whom want to protect the climate and nature.

The reason for this is clear, as you acknowledge in your recent editorial (The Guardian view on the climate emergency: we cannot afford to despair, 8 May): “It is true that what citizens support in theory and what they actually vote for do not always align. Tackling global heating will be cheaper than trying to live with it, but the costs are upfront and the rewards long term – certainly longer than electoral cycles.”

So why do we, at UK climate charity Carbon Copy, remain stubborn climate optimists? Because it was never going to be about incremental change.

Like the Earth’s natural systems that we are driving towards cascading environmental collapse, as the Guardian columnist George Monbiot has said (After the failure of Cop26, there’s only one last hope for our survival, 4 November 2021), it will only take about 25% of the public to change their behaviour to create a comparable massive cultural shift. “Our last, best hope,” wrote Monbiot, “is to use those dynamics to our advantage, triggering what scientists call ‘cascading regime shifts’.”

And it is we, citizens working together in countries around the world, who are still making progress towards that cultural tipping point.
Andy Knott
Trustee, Carbon Copy

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