It’s World Environment Day, and just over a month since MPs declared a climate change emergency, hailed as a “huge step forward” by Jeremy Corbyn and “historic and very hopeful news” by Greta Thunberg.
I’ll be honest, when I first imagined this blog, I saw it as an angry tirade against the establishment, whereupon I would expertly lay into them for all that they haven’t achieved to protect the climate in the month since declaring an emergency.
The problem is, dare I say it, I think we might be doing okay.
So, what’s happened since May 1st?
Well, the Ultra Low Emission Zone has continued to be enforced in the capital, which has led to almost 10,000 fewer high polluting vehicles heading into central London.
To increase their competitive angle, Labour has pledged to fit 1.75 million homes with solar panels, with a focus on these going to lower income families.
In the battle against plastic, straws, plastic stirrers and cotton buds are all facing their last hurrah as the government has proposed a blanket ban on their use.
And the Green Party returned more than double the number of MEPs to the European Parliament, in a campaign that prioritised the climate crisis.
All in all, between the public and parliament, I’m tempted to say that’s not a bad effort.
Keeping the momentum
With the school strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests reaching a peak in April, the climate emergency was announced amid much pressure from the general public.
But with rebels taking a break to regroup, can we count on MPs to keep up that pressure?
The theme of World Environment Day this year is ‘Beat air pollution’, and its timing is apt. The UK has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, and, while we have been making reductions, we’re yet to see if these are enough to make a difference.
Although the government appears to be saying and doing the right things, they’re currently considering a new coal mine and have approved expansion at Heathrow. An Environment Bill has been on the horizon since the end of last year, but this has come under fire in parliament recently for not providing adequate protection if the UK leaves the EU.
Perhaps we should encourage the government (i.e. protest peacefully but persistently until they have to) to collaborate with charities such as Greenpeace, who have outlined an alternative climate manifesto, to make sure we stick to the pledges we’ve made.
However we decide to put that pressure on, Environment Day is a timely reminder not to slow down in the race to save the planet from the climate crisis.