Climate Change is a massive issue


Our beautiful Earth is more under threat than ever before

This afternoon there will be a climate charge march in Liverpool in support of the COP 21 climate change talks being held in Paris later this week. I cannot attend this afternoon because I am preparing to attend those talks.
Alongside the meetings of Ministers and Presidents and Prime Ministers there will be a series of meetings hosted by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, which will be attended by more than 1,000 leaders of local government from around the World. The local government leader’s event is being supported by President Obama who has ensured that 100 Mayors will be present from the USA. The reason that local government will be meeting with the support of people like Obama is that at the end of the day all services are delivered locally. Governments can puff and posture and they can do many things to change laws and improve international emission standards but they cannot change the minds and hearts of people to do things differently.
That is the job of local government. Working inside the communities we represent we can not only fine tune services to ensure that we reduce energy consumption but also engage people of all ages to do things differently.
Climate change is a matter of desperate importance for the future of our planet but apparently very difficult for politicians to deal with who are only looking at the 5 year electoral time span. We have seen this Government dismantle much of the green agenda which was put in place by the Lib Dems as part of the coalition government. Subsidies to promote energy efficiency; the Green Bank; alternative energy sources have all been slashed.
Yes this will save the cost of electricity bills slightly now but will raise them massively in the future. These short term measures ironically will make us more dependent on external sources of gas including from the Russian Federation. No I do not think that we will ever be in a military war situation with Russia but I can see the possibility that our gas supplies will be affected either in volume or price to put political pressure on us. At the moment that is no problem because there is a huge reserve of oil and gas built up because of the reduction in consumption in some of the BRICs, notably China but I would not rely on that lasting for ever.
It’s easy to joke about climate change. It could be that the World will get 4% warmer and the wits say, “wouldn’t that be nice? It’ll be just like Spain”. But a rise in temperature leads to huge changes in two related factors sea currents and wind currents.
The UK is actually at quite a northerly latitude. The reason that we don’t freeze up in winter is because of the warm currents which circulate across the Atlantic. There are many signs that the currents are moving and that the warmth might miss us altogether. Even the most short sighted must have noted that we are getting an increased number of storms and tail ends of hurricanes. In fact we are about to get one later today. Never before have we had to name incoming storm systems and name them as we are doing now. As the water currents move so do the wind currents – with devastating effects.
Those changes in weather systems are causing serious droughts in some countries and severe flooding in others. All this is affecting our ability to grow crops to feed the ever increasing number of people on the Earth.
This is all coupled with a rise in sea levels. The Polar ice caps and the glaciers which contain massive amounts of water are declining at a faster and faster rate. This will mean that some nations such as the Maldives will disappear altogether. The effect on our own Country will be huge. Just think of Liverpool and our wonderful Pier Head. In 50 Years it will under water unless we build massive flood defences such as the Thames barrier.

Almost every coastal town and city in Wales will be wiped out. These statements are not alarmist posturing but scientific fact. Yes a handful of scientists hold out against the mad made climate change situation. They point out rightly that these things have happened before. True but that is no reason to exacerbate them in the present.
Councils have so much they can do., Recycling more, bulk energy sales; promotion of busses and public transport; encouragement of local parks and green spaces; coppicing schemes to use branches and wood products for energy.
But they can only do so much. WE all need to change. Gas guzzling cars; unnecessary journeys; patio gas burners; inefficiently sealed homes; central heating on too high, buying stuff we don’t really need.. This is not someone else’s responsibility it is our responsibility.
This Earth will last me out. But I now have grandchildren. I don’t know what the Earth will be like when they in their turn have grandchildren. I want my family to be living in a healthy environment even if they will never know anything about great, great, great, great Grandpa Kemp. I think about the future of my family and so should you.
Lastly there was a very sad note struck at the council’s regeneration committee last week. Green councillor Tom Crone raised the COP21 conference and urged the Council to join the Compact of Mayors gathering in Paris. The resolution was not, in truth, a very good one but its principles were spot on. But as you might expect in Liverpool the Labour Party as always managed to lower to the occasion. They voted against the resolution for a range of spurious reasons. Of course the only reason they voted against it was because they hadn’t thought about it. Climate change will only be tackled if we forget each others’ foibles and work together to what is actually the greatest threat the World in its entirety has ever known

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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2 Responses to Climate Change is a massive issue

  1. Steve says:

    Well said about local authorities having real power to influence change over matters like transportation. So why did the Liverpool Mayor & his cabinet abolish bus lanes & dissuade potential new users?

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