Address to UDC scrutiny committee re Climate Change Action Plan
16th December 2021
Policy Development Committee member of the national Green Party,
St Mary’s Eco Church team leader,
Christian Aid Climate Campaign Organiser and
instigator of ‘Ring out for Climate!’
I would like to speak in support of the proposed Climate Crisis Action Plan.
I understand from the article in The Reporter that the plan was regarded by this committee as being over ambitious.
I have to confess to being over ambitious myself.
Over ambitious in my desire to leave a reasonably inhabitable planet to my children and grandchildren when I die. ‘Over ambitious’ because there is absolutely no chance of that happening. The Green House Gases in the atmosphere will continue to increase until we eventually reach global carbon zero, during which time, extreme weather events will have been getting ever more extreme and lethal.
It is the stuff of nightmares.
So the more ‘over-ambitious’ you are now, the less pollution our children and grandchildren around the world, will have to suffer and eventually remove during the second half of this century.
I applaud the way in which projects are flagged as being ‘in house’ or ‘in partnership’. The in-house actions will test your powers of management over areas in which you have control, while the ‘partnership’ actions will test your powers of leadership over areas in which you must exert skills of influence, facilitation and inspiration.
These could double or quadruple your impact.
I applaud the principle that carbon offsetting will be a policy of last resort.
I applaud the concept of the Triple Bottom Line in which the financial, environmental and social impacts of actions will be evaluated together, in a fully joined up way, so that financial considerations don’t automatically trump public health or the environment. This will involve a deeply radical change of mindset and processes which I urge you to adopt.
I applaud the ways in which the budget is going to be used to leverage grant funding so that its impact is multiplied.
I applaud the ways in which feasibility studies will be used to kick start funding, with due diligence applied in evaluating public/private projects to avoid future pitfalls.
And I applaud the ways in which the significant opportunities for employment are considered with an emerging sense of the JUST transition we need to a post fossil fuel economy.
If I were to criticise the plan, it would be because I would be even more excited about the opportunities for a new, clean economy: new sustainable jobs, cleaner air, warmer homes, cleaner and quieter transport, new woodlands and wetlands, increased birdsong, fresher local food….
But that is probably because I am less of a realist than the authors of this strategy, and so I will end by commending its thoroughly researched realism to you.