Me and /or future generations?
How we solve a problem depends upon aims for the future: are we seeking a short term or a long term fix? The nature of democracies is that governments’ timescales limited to the time remaining until the next election. In the UK that time scale is now 3 1/2 years. In France the next presidential election is less than 12 months away. Governments want to be re-elected so opt for policies that will win the favour of their most important voters. It is not surprising that at the G7 Summit President Macron has shied away from banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in the near future. The UK’s Department of the Environment released a press statement that “…all [G7] countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050…” but gave few details or commitments as to how that target is to be achieved.
2050 is that beautiful place in the future when all things will be both green and rosey. But if we are to live in that future (or rather if our grandchildren are to live in that future) we need to tackle action now. Like the Covid virus, global temperatures increases and climate change will not hold back until we’re ready to tackle the problems. We need to be radically changing the way we generate energy now, the way we farm – now, the way we use energy to transport our selves and goods – now, the way we heat and/or cool our buildings – now, the way we consume – now! Otherwise our carbon emissions will continue to accelerate global warming and we will have no chance of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5C.
There is a real conflict of interests between politicians with a five year view of the future and the rest of us who see the future as somewhere to enjoy our old age and where our grandchildren will thrive. This is why it is important that we a) make all the changes we can in our own lifestyles, and b) campaign, sign petitions, write to our MPs and do we all we can to make climate change and carbon emission reductions the most important political issue of this Parliament.