This was a great session chaired by Zuzanna Ludzic from Kings College SAAA and led by Rose Dickinson from Friends of the Earth, which sparked some really in depth discussion. The drift of the session was that our government and politicians can or will not take action on climate change. They have made cuts in solar investment leading to the loss of 2000 jobs, scrapped requirements for home insulation for new homes and are the only G7 government to have increased fossil fuel subsidies. All this ties in with their austerity agenda of cutting instead of making sorely needed investments in green infrastructure and creating jobs in the process. A case in point being that a national home insulation scheme would create 100000 jobs.
It is clear, from their recent actions, that the government is dividing people with racism and xenophobia at a time when we need to act together as a planet. It was recognised in the discussions that what is needed is a large coordinated movement as there seems to be a tendency for people to view climate action as something to undertake individually. It is evident that we have strength in numbers and we must use that strength to take actions that are truly international and to take them now. It was unanimously agreed that change must be enacted fast as the longer we allow greenhouse gases to continue building up in the atmosphere, the more difficult it will be to avert climate catastrophe even if we stop producing CO2 altogether.
There was much discussion on how we can do this, but it was generally agreed that we need an economic system which doesn’t reward the exploitation of finite resources. As individuals we can put pressure on the government to take climate change seriously by attending marches and events for the climate, such as the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs on November the 29th, and against austerity. In the meantime, it was raised in discussion that green capitalism, such as a proposed carbon tax, may have a role to play in appealing to the public. Something that any of us can do with a campus group or just a few mates to raise the economic and social issues surrounding climate change is to put on a screening of the film This Changes Everything, thoroughly recommended during the workshop.
Rose highlighted some of the successes of people power including Lancashire’s rejection of fracking, the rejection of the Keystone pipeline in the US and the decision by Shell to halt Arctic oil exploration. We should also ensure that we are not disheartened by incidences which shift public focus away from climate change such as the Paris attacks and the implications for COP21 demonstrations due to security in the wake of it, as the climate campaign is a continuous one which does not rest on any one event.