Climate change is mostly an insidious process. It manifests in a storm that’s a bit more extreme in one place, a heat wave that lasts a bit longer in another, writes cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.
We adjust, we buy an air conditioning unit or pay a bit more for insurance, we wait for the weather to turn; the temptation is to adjust to a new normal.
Sometimes, however, the urgency of the situation is made clear. This past week saw the highest ever temperatures recorded in France, over 45 degrees Celsius. A recent item in the Guardian newspaper also caught my eye: it got so hot in Bodega Head, California, that mussels on the shore cooked in their shells. It was the biggest die-off in 15 years; there are fears that this will impact the wider ecosystem.
Summits come and go, fine words are stated, but money is cut for renewable energy and public transport. We have to take action; there are things we can do here in Peterborough.
I made a pledge at the annual council meeting to table a motion regarding the climate emergency. I also committed to work on a cross-party basis to get meaningful policies enacted. So far, I’m pleased all parties want to work together. A motion on climate change will be tabled at the next full council meeting on July 24.
Of course, this is by no means enough. As we intend to build the “UK’s Environment Capital” we should be leading the way. We’ve been slow to take action; indeed, in some ways we are going backwards. For example, less public transport being available can only lead to more carbon emissions. We don’t have nearly enough cycle paths to encourage alternative means to get around our city. We should be careful when we assess the environmental impact of housing developments. We should encourage the use of solar energy. But we’ve been so focused on the money budget that we lost sight of the carbon budget we should set for ourselves: we should be looking to make deep cuts into the latter.
The goal should be to get it down to zero.
I believe this is the most important issue of our time. How we address it will not only form our legacy, it will also ensure we play our part in changing our world for the better. This should be our main task as politicians. It’s pleasing that so far that there is a cross-party consensus on this issue. I believe this is what the public expects; it’s our duty to oblige.
Regardless, the Labour Group and I will ensure that we don’t just pay lip service to climate change. The Labour Group’s policies will always have the environment in mind: we will set a carbon budget which we will reduce year on year. We will hold the administration to account to ensure the council takes this issue seriously.
We will remind them: this isn’t about us. It’s about what we leave for future generations.
Earth from space showing effects of climate change (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)