I am very pleased that Labour Candidate Ruth Milsom understands the urgency of climate change and wants the Council to commit to becoming zero carbon by 2030. (letters 9.3.19) I hope she can persuade her colleagues in the Cabinet to make this a reality. I am also pleased that she wants to work with others to make this a success. I am sure Sheffield Council will have the full cooperation of all the various green groups to help them meet their targets if the Council choose to cooperate with them.
It will be very difficult to become carbon neutral by 2030 but 25 Councils around the country have already pledged to do this. It is the United Nations that have declared we must halve our emissions by then or risk the future of a totally uninhabitable planet. If Council officers say it is not possible then for the sake of life on this planet Councillors must tell them to think again.
My letter was not about party politics, but Ruth has chosen to turn it into an attack on the Green Party. I will judge the Council on its deeds not its words. Since the declaration of a climate emergency, the Council has continued with its plans to expand the ring road which will lead to more traffic and more emissions. The Labour Party continue to campaign for more economic growth which will exacerbate the problem.
Meanwhile, there have been more scientific reports published making it clear that the situation is even worse than we thought. The recent discovery1 that the concentration of methane in the atmosphere is rising sharply, when the Paris climate accord had assumed that it would by now be falling, puts in question our ability to keep global warming below 2 degrees C- a target that many scientists think is too high to avoid a “hothouse earth” scenario where the planet becomes uninhabitable.
We are living through the 6th mass extinction. You were probably taught that previous extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gases2. 252 million years ago carbon warmed the planet by five degrees. This was accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane in the Arctic and ended with 97 per cent of all life on Earth dead. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a faster rate; probably at least ten times faster. The rate is accelerating.
This is an Emergency and there is no time to play party politics. We need urgent action to be taken by all levels of Government, businesses and individuals now.