There is no vaccine for climate change 

The threat of climate change has gone from something that’s going to happen ‘some day’ to something that is happening now. Hence, Climate Emergency!

Through the campaigns run by the WI we have learnt so much about how we, as individuals, can reduce the damage inflicted on our environment.WI members have been bold enough to put forward resolutions and then determined enough to follow them through. I have huge respect for their efforts. 

We have hidden the clingfilm, mended our clothes, made soup using leftovers, walked to the shops with a shopping trolley, turned down the thermostat and put on a woolly jumper, changed our energy supplier to a renewable source — the list goes on. 

I would be the last person to discourage these efforts. Individual changes to reduce our carbon footprint are good because they normalise those choices and encourage others to do the same, but on their own they are never going to be enough to achieve the level of change needed. We need to prioritise the health and wellbeing of ALL life over money and profit. 

We can learn to live without fossil fuels and luxury but we can’t live without nature. Or maybe we can learn to live with different luxury, the luxury of birdsong, of clean air, of streams and woods full of life, of children’s voices echoing around neighbourhoods instead of engines. 

Last month many of you responded to the Show the Love campaign, part of the Climate Coalition’s response to the climate crisis.You made green hearts and displayed them where you could make an impact. The WI was one of the founder members of the Climate Coalition. MPs tell us that they don’t get much correspondence about the climate crisis from their constituents. We can change that — in your February WI Life there was a postcard for you to send to your MP. 

A recent poll showed that 80% of the British public recognise that we have a climate emergency. There is no vaccine. No-one is immune. 

A Private Member’s Bill introduced to Parliament in 2005 led directly to the 2008 Climate Change Act, at the time the most radical piece of legislation in the world. But we have more data now and we know that aiming for zero emissions by 2050 will be too late. 

Why are we moving so slowly?

The measures that are needed may be unpopular. They won’t win votes. If I was an MP I wouldn’t want to risk losing my seat. BUT if my constituents were repeatedly asking me to take stronger action, I would be more confident.

The Climate and Ecology Emergency (CEE) Bill, is a Private Member’s Bill, and needs the support of over 200 MPs to progress through Parliament.It is a response to the precarious situation we find ourselves in and is rooted in science. Its three main points are: 

  • We must stay with a carbon budget calculated to remain at or below 1.5 degrees C of warming and this budget must include our real carbon footprint based on ALL our consumption emissions and not based on ‘pie in the sky’ carbon capture technology. 
  • ?We need to repair the habitats for our wildlife to halt the sixth mass extinction. 
  • The measures needed will be much more acceptable if they come from a cross-section of society, a Citizens’ Assembly to advise the Government.
  • Does your MP support the CEE Bill?

We mustn’t get disheartened by our individual efforts’ we do make a difference with every decision that we make. We can encourage each other to contact our democratically elected representatives to support the CEE Bill so that we can approach the COP 26 meeting in Glasgow with confidence and determination. 

Now where did I put that postcard?

Rosemary Horton, Climate Change Advocate

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