The dawn of a decade

January 1st, 2020

Happy New Year!

Greta Thunberg is happy, and I am determined to be too! I’ve been listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that was guest edited by her this week.

She is pleased to be home with her family and has such a positive outlook. Her message continues to be all about the science of climate change. Once people discover the truth through reading the scientific facts, she believes, they/we will change our behaviour – it’s so amazing that she doesn’t judge individuals, just hopes that we will all reach the right conclusions….

I find it harder not to despair that the world’s not changing fast enough, I must admit.

The CEO of Shell, Ben van Buerden, was on the programme too. He was smugly pleased with the progress the company’s making with developing ‘low-carbon alternative’ fuels (only a tenth of their overall business, by the way…), but also seemed to put the responsibility at the door of us as consumers. If the world stops demanding petrol (‘high carbon fuel’) in as high quantities, the proportion of their business can switch round – less oil drilling, more eco friendliness….?! He even praised climate activists, saying their/our message is important. It all sounded like smooth public relations speak really, but it does show how much power people actually have – we can change things with how we spend….

Mark Carney, who will step down as Bank of England governor at the end of this month (taking up an unpaid position as the UN’s special envoy for climate action and finance), talked about both this potential market-driven change together with regulation as being vital in addressing climate change. He is advocating for all companies to make disclosures about their carbon footprints, with clear plans about how they will meet the zero carbon target. And he suggested we all ask the question: how is my money being invested?

He said the UK must have put its house in order by November 9th, 2020, when COP26 (the UN’s Conference of Parties) takes place in Glasgow – Greta Thunberg underlined that this is such an important event. We need a ‘tipping point’ for slowing the global heating path we’re on….

I know it’s important to let you all make your own decisions about your behaviour, dear readers, but I really urge you to all write to your MPs (and companies, banks etc too if possible) ahead of November, asking about their contribution to making an environmental difference in 2020.

How can there be joyful firework displays welcoming this year when the damage caused by climate change is so evident around the world….? Unsurprisingly, Australia’s Scott Morrison ignored the 250,000+ people who signed a petition calling for the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks to be cancelled in order to spend the money on fighting the bushfires instead. Despite the Australian government at last admitting that climate change is a contributing factor to the soaring temperatures, Morrison reckons there is no urgency about changing policies (‘everyone should keep calm like the firefighters…’). Of course he doesn’t want to risk people’s jobs etc, but this is a classic example of politicians simply concentrating on today and tomorrow, rather than preparing for the future.

That was how David Attenborough summarised politics – he was also on Greta Thunberg’s Today programme. He said there needs to be a world movement, such as we have never seen before, where there is a consensus to fight climate change – an electric shock to bring people to their senses….

Another example of global heating is in Russia – the government has resorted to sending trucks filled with artificial snow to decorate a new year display in Moscow. Real snow usually begins blanketing Russia in October or November. This year light flurries have fallen in Moscow and its parks are dusted white, but most of the snow in the city centre has melted.

I’m going to end this first blog of the decade with some good news.

Ethical consumer spending has hit record levels in the UK – food, drink, clothing, energy and eco-travel. The Co-op is due to announce that it has banned black plastic packaging from all of its products. By summer this year it will also have phased out all non-recyclable plastics and replaced them with those that can be reused or easily recycled. I had a chat with a member of Sainsbury’s staff before Christmas, trying to understand why some parsnips were sold in plastic packaging and others were loose….couldn’t they all be loose? He said that changes can’t happen overnight….Tied into supply chain contracts etc, I guess, and I didn’t want to get into an un-festive argument, but the oceans are so full of our plastic rubbish.. Maybe we’ll switch to shopping at the Co-op….

Finally, I hope you share my pleasure with the latest Vauxhall Corsa television advert…?! Very strange for me to like anything to do with cars, but these are electric; and, the bit that appeals to me, a graveyard for petrol…..Just marketing, of course, but right ‘up my street’….!

2 thoughts on “The dawn of a decade

  1. Sometimes I find my government to be an embarrassment, now is one of those times.
    We are looking at ways we can cut our personal carbon footprint again, there is always room for improvement, feeling really depressed about the future at the moment, I don’t think a lot of people in Australia yet appreciate what the fires mean, my expectation is that this event will send the country into a recession like they have never seen before, our agriculture has effectively been destroyed, first by the drought but the fires are a blow that it will be hard to recover from. The rhetoric in defense of fossil fuels and mining will increase because it will be the only string to the economy left. This summer has destroyed agriculture and tourism. Before the fires people like you and Greta and David Atenborough gave me hope and I did think change was possible. I will keep up the fight but I am struggling to remain positive at the moment. Thank you again for your always inspiring post. May the year bring you much happiness and success.


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