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Climate change must be thrust to the centre of UK politics – Labour is urged

Labour Must Put More Focus On Climate Change, Morning Star, 12 July 17 

Though the election didn’t focus much on the environment, the Labour Party must now thrust it into the political arena, argues IAN SINCLAIR


THERE is a tendency in Britain to look contemptuously upon the US political system. And nowhere are the deficiencies of the “shining city on a hill” more glaring than its sidelining of climate change — “the missing issue” of the 2016 US presidential campaign, reported the Guardian. According to the US writer Bryan Farrell, the topic was discussed for just 82 seconds during the 2016 televised presidential debates, which was actually an improvement on the 2012 debates, when it wasn’t mentioned at all.

Tragically, this omission was mirrored in the recent general election here. “The issue of #climatechange was completely marginalised during the #GE2017 media coverage,” Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture tweeted about its election analysis.

This absence, the media watchdog Media Lens noted, is “the great insanity of our time.” Why? Because climate change is arguably the most serious threat the world faces today.

In January 2017 writer Andrew Simms surveyed over a dozen leading climate scientists and analysts and found none of them thought global temperatures would stay below 2°C — the figure world leaders agree we cannot exceed if we wish to stop dangerous climate change.

Last year, top climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson told the Morning Star the pledges made by nations at the 2015 Paris climate summit would likely lead to a 3-4°C rise in global temperatures. Frighteningly he also told the author George Marshall that it’s hard to find any scientist who considers four degrees “as anything other than catastrophic for both human society and ecosystems.”

Surveying the environmental policies of the main parties just before June 8, Friends of the Earth scored the Green Party top with 46 points, followed by Labour on 34, the Liberal Democrats on 32 and the Conservatives trailing last with a poor 11.

The environment and climate change did not play a significant role in the Labour Party’s hugely successful election campaign. And though Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself rarely mentioned the topic on the campaign trail, the manifesto was a pleasant surprise to many.

“I’ve been really encouraged by Corbyn’s commitment to safeguarding our environment,” Nancy Strang, the women’s officer in Brent Central Labour, tells me. “The 2017 manifesto pledges to increase renewable energy production and investment, to tackle our air quality with a Clean Air Act, to protect Britain’s wildlife, and to ban fracking are all huge steps in the right direction … these pledges go beyond those in any previous Labour Party manifesto that I remember.”

The Green Party’s Dr Rupert Read agrees. “Corbyn’s Labour have some good environmental policies,” he tells me. “For example, their new-found opposition to fracking is much to be welcomed.”

However, he highlights a “fundamental problem” with Labour’s manifesto. “It is their unreconstructed insistence on ‘faster economic growth’,” Read argues.

The environment and climate change did not play a significant role in the Labour Party’s hugely successful election campaign. And though Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself rarely mentioned the topic on the campaign trail, the manifesto was a pleasant surprise to many.

“I’ve been really encouraged by Corbyn’s commitment to safeguarding our environment,” Nancy Strang, the women’s officer in Brent Central Labour, tells me. “The 2017 manifesto pledges to increase renewable energy production and investment, to tackle our air quality with a Clean Air Act, to protect Britain’s wildlife, and to ban fracking are all huge steps in the right direction … these pledges go beyond those in any previous Labour Party manifesto that I remember.”

The Green Party’s Dr Rupert Read agrees. “Corbyn’s Labour have some good environmental policies,” he tells me. “For example, their new-found opposition to fracking is much to be welcomed.”

it is clear external political pressure from the Green Party — “they have led where others were not so bold,” says Van Coevorden — also has an essential role to play in pushing Corbyn’s Labour in the right direction on green issues. It should also be noted that Corbyn personally opposes some of the environmentally damaging policies the broader Labour Party currently supports, such as Heathrow expansion and Trident renewal.
So, arguably, increased backing for the Labour leader and sidelining his neoliberal opponents within the party will likely improve Labour’s environmental policies.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. First, because against all the odds Corbyn now has a realistic chance of becoming Prime Minister — YouGov’s latest poll has Labour on 46 per cent and the Tories on 38 per cent. And second, because climate change continues to be an existential threat to humanity, with the Guardian reporting “scientists said they feared for their children” after hearing of US President Donald Trump’s vow to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

It is, therefore, essential the environment and climate change are thrust to the centre of the national political debate as soon as possible — something Green Party and Labour Party members can both agree on, surely?

It is, therefore, essential the environment and climate change are thrust to the centre of the national political debate as soon as possible — something Green Party and Labour Party members can both agree on, surely?
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-de1a-Labour-must-put-more-focus-on-climate-change

 

 

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July 15, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, politics, UK

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