Sheffield should go Carbon Neutral by 2030

Sheffield Star 13th Feb 2019

Dear Editor

At the Full Council meeting I presented a petition of over 400 names, collected in less than a week, calling on Sheffield to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Climate change is now an emergency. The 2018 State of the Climate report says that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the 2015-2018 making up the top four.

The UN told us last year that we only have 12 years to reduce our carbon emissions or the planet will heat beyond 1.5 degrees C. By that time my 3-year-old granddaughter will still not be able to vote, but the future of the planet may have been determined as uninhabitable.

As the world gets hotter feedback loops kick in, which are predicted to lead to ever increasing temperatures, the “hothouse earth” scenario.

Massive forest fires have been spreading in Tasmania and in California. Drought has increased, making fires more likely. The burning forests releases a massive store of carbon into the atmosphere, further adding to the greenhouse effect. The destroyed forest no longer soaks up the CO2, so even more CO2 warms the atmosphere.

In the arctic the ice reflects the sun’s rays. But warming has been melting the ice revealing the dark water. This absorbs the energy from the sunlight, warming the water and speeding ice melt.

Around the arctic the permafrost is melting releasing large amounts of methane, which is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Phil Camill described this as “unplugging the refrigerator in the far north. Everything that is preserved there is going to start to rot”.

These feedback loops mean that once climate change really gets going there will be no stopping it.

We can expect food shortages, starvation, far more extreme weather, wars over resources and massive movements of migrants around the world fleeing uninhabitable countries.

This is an emergency. We need rapid action to reduce our emissions. This won’t come from individual changes in lifestyle, we need systemic changes from Government, including local Government, to help us all do the right thing for the planet. At the heart of this must be the end of the worship of economic growth.

The Labour motion failed to set targets for urgent action. It is no use saying, “Our house is on fire, this is an emergency” but then saying, “Let’s ask a committee to report back in 6 months to see if we should call the fire brigade”. It is an emergency, so the Council should have acted like it is an emergency and called the fire brigade!Yours sincerely

Graham Wroe

Notes

Video of the petition hand in is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJVmTEeMcF4&t=2s
The petition is here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/sheffield-city-council-should-be-carbon-neutral-by-2030-1.

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