CLIMATE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
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Across the world, people’s lives are being devastated by climate change. Drought, storms, floods, crop damage and rising sea-levels have forced millions to flee their homes. And it's the world’s poorest who are hardest hit.
The effects will get worse as temperatures rise. Greenhouse gas emissions have to be dramatically reduced if we are to stop temperatures rising. Global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To do this greenhouse gas emission targets have got to be reduced further. The UK has enshrined in law a reduction of 78% by 2035 and carbon neutral by 2050. If every country can achieve this we have a chance of saving the world from a climate catastrophe.
The planet is warmer than it has been for over 1,000 years due to the increase in the coal, oil and gas we’ve been burning. The planet’s ability to absorb these gasses has been severely reduced because of deforestation. Although the destruction of the rainforest is mainly to blame, all countries have been guilty of deforestation.
‘Reforesting Britain’ is a campaign we will launch to significantly increase the number of trees and forests in the UK.
The driver of the deforestation of the rainforest has been the need to provide more space for crops to be grown to feed the ever increasing numbers of beef cattle being farmed across the world. In addition, cows emit huge quantities of methane gas.
A Climate Tax on meat should be considered. It would be per kilo of pre-prepared meat. The purpose of this tax would be to increase awareness of the effects of meat consumption, to reduce it, and to encourage healthier eating habits.
The world’s oceans are being devastated by industrial fishing and industrial activity.
Fish stocks are being decimated. We have to take urgent action to protect our oceans.
We would propose an extension to the very small number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the world. We would press for these to be increased to 30% - 70m sq km - of the world’s oceans.
Plastic pollution is a huge and growing problem. There is an area in the Pacific ocean the size of France which is nothing but discarded plastic waste. Discarded plastics are killing wildlife, and the ingestion of micro plastics is endangering human life.
Plastics should be put into two categories: essential and non-essential. Non essential plastics would be subject to a Plastic Pollution tax to discourage use.
Intensive farming and pesticides
Intensive farming, introduced to meet the growing demand for food, is now the cause of damage to land and ecosystems. Serious side effects from the use of pesticides and fertilisers heavily used on crops fed to farmed animals have been identified. Insects, and particularly bees - vital to the ecosystem which supports us - are being decimated by the use of pesticides.
A review of farming practices is urgently required to include the use of pesticides with a view to formulating a new farming model for the future.
Green Investment Banks
There is a pressing need to impose stringent conditions on how financial corporations operate. The urgency posed by accelerating climate change demands that there is a switch out of fossil fuels and into zero-carbon activities. Fossil fuel capitalism can be rendered unprofitable by carbon tariffs, renewable energy subsidies and state investments. It needs to happen.
There needs to be a massive expansion of state owned green investment banks which will be critical in transforming green finance. They would offer loans and grants to be used to fund research and development and start-ups in zero-carbon technologies.
Public banks are important for green lending. They already lend as much as private banks in the green economy. They, along with public wealth funds, also offer an opportunity to democratise banking. Their financial assets could be shared collectively amongst citizens in the form of a citizens dividend which could contribute to a Universal Basic Income. It's time to reconfigure our thinking and embrace the opportunities that abound.