A letter to the Star in reply to Gary Speck
It is a shame that Gary Speck of Millhouses does not recognise that Extinction Rebellion supporters may also currently be mourning the loss of loved ones, be risking their lives in front line jobs or wondering if they will still have a job when the lockdown is over. He seems to have forgotten the first rule of the pandemic- be kind. I certainly won’t be punching the air in delight at other people’s misfortune.
He is correct to say that the current reduction in our emissions will have little effect on our climate. Terrible damage has already been done, and the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere are not being removed, so the earth will continue to get hotter, bringing yet more floods, droughts, wildfires and tornadoes. But there is some good news. A recent report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air says the improvement in air quality over the past month of the coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Unfortunately, the drastic changes we have made in reducing travel are not enough if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. George Monbiot pointed out that “despite the vast changes we have made in our lives, global carbon dioxide emissions are likely to reduce by only about 5.5% this year. A UN report shows that to stand a reasonable chance of avoiding 1.5C or more of global heating, we need to cut emissions by 7.6% per year for the next decade. In other words, the lockdown exposes the limits of individual action. Travelling less helps, but not enough. To make the necessary cuts we need structural change. This means an entirely new industrial policy, created and guided by government.” A Green New Deal.
Presumably, Mr Speck would like the Government to give Richard Branson the £500 million bailout he has asked for. Why should the Government rescue a company that never pay tax and are literally jetting us to climate catastrophe? The loss of jobs will be regrettable, but many new jobs will be created in renewable energy, energy efficiency, public transport and sustainable agriculture when a Green New Deal is implemented. This money should be used to support a transition to a new normal, where the planet and people are put first. We must not return to business as usual, because that is what is destroying the planet.