In 1992 the world’s governments signed both climate and biodiversity conventions. That was the time in history when the world, already after significant delay and procrastination, understood our predicament and agreed to do something about it. Since then, no number of conventions, plans, targets, ambitions, or “COPs” (Conference of Parties signing the convention) has made any difference at all to global trends in climate breakdown and nature loss!
This is what failure looks like – 30 years of high ambition and low delivery.
Back then we had an opportunity to deliver a planned transition to a low-carbon, ecologically sustainable future. That opportunity was squandered. Slow transition is no longer possible. As Kevin Anderson, a leading climate scientist, says, “There are no non-radical futures left”.
Whilst we may think that the cost of addressing climate change is high, we all know that the cost of inaction would be far higher. Our inaction over the last 30 years now means that we will probably be faced with both the costs of addressing climate change, and the costs of curing the damage all at once.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change) 6th major Synthesis Report gives the clearest statement yet about the scale of action needed to have a chance of a sustainable future. Our situation is dire. It could be that by the time of the 7th report in 2030, global temperatures may already have breached the 1.5 degrees limit. Effectively, the IPCC says what we need to do now, is everything, everywhere, all at once.
Global delivery may have been pitifully inadequate, but this is not to imply complete inaction. We can point to many local examples where action is being taken towards climate and ecological emergencies. Much has been done (but not enough). Technology has improved (but tech alone will not save us). Many people are engaged (though there is still denial and delay). Ambitious plans and targets have been announced (but almost never delivered). But there is some movement.
We know the solutions, what is lacking is the political will.
This is where South East Climate Alliance SECA’s ABCD pledge comes in. Commit to:
- A – Accelerate action
- B – Build partnerships
- C – Communicate clearly
- D – Divest from fossil fuels
It may seem a small thing, but a mass of cross-party prospective council members all making this pledge across a District, a region and indeed a whole country gives a strong message. Political will can be brought to bear. Local democracy is our right and one of the tools at our disposal. Let’s make full use of it.
by Tony Whitbread
President of Sussex Wildlife Trust and Chair of SECA (South East Climate Alliance)