Jonathan Bartley: This election isn’t a choice between Brexit or Remain, Labour or Tory – it’s about the future of our planet
The next in our General Election series, co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley writes that, after a decade of dithering, it's time to face up to the ongoing climate and ecological emergency.
When the history books are written, and future generations look back at what defined this specific moment in history, they will ask the question: “What did you do about the climate emergency?”
This could be the last election in which we can turn the tide on climate. We know, and the scientists tell us, that we only have until 2030 to avoid irreparable damage. If the next Parliament runs for a full term, it won’t be until 2024 until the public gets another chance to change their MPs. If ten years to reach net-zero seems like an extreme prospect, then imagine us here again with only five years left to act.
The truth is, we didn’t have to be here. During the 2008 financial crisis, Caroline Lucas led calls for a Green New Deal which would have transformed our economy and massively reduced our climate impact. Instead of a Green New Deal, the Labour government bailed out the banks and carried on with business as usual. Real climate action in 2008 would have given us 22 years to sort things out - yet instead we find ourselves here, after a decade of dithering, facing up to an ongoing climate and ecological emergency.
Rather than making things better, the Conservative and Lib Dem government made things worse. Hated and deeply damaging policies like fracking, HS2 and airport expansion have exacerbated the climate emergency and hurt our natural heritage.
They’ve all been part of the problem - and their sudden “concern” for the environment is conveniently timed with the massive increase in public attention. It’s welcome that everyone is talking green - but now that their manifestos have been published, we can see that what they are actually promising falls far short of the rhetoric.
The Greens, meanwhile, have been campaigning on this for decades - regardless of whether the environment is trendy or not. We are the ones who take the climate and the environment seriously. We are the people who have the policies that will set us on track to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. We are the ones who have the vision to transform our economy from one of inequality and waste to one that offers financial security to everyone while respecting the ecological constraints of our planet earth.
Now, more than ever, the impacts of climate and the environment are front and centre of people’s lives. People are recognising that time is running out - and this is shaping up as the Climate Election. And they are becoming frustrated that so much political time - now three and a half years and counting - has been wasted on Brexit while the planet burns. People are asking “what if the same amount of national effort, expenditure and debate had been applied to achieving net-zero carbon emissions?!”
The choices in this election isn’t just between Brexit or Remain; Labour or Tory. The choice is about the future of our planet. When your grandkids ask “what did you do about the climate emergency”, what will you tell them?
It’s time to take action and vote Green. If not now, when?
Jonathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green Party, and prospective parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood.