Russell Jones looks beyond the current political shenanigans and asks whether the country is focusing enough on the climate crisis

Wherever you stand on the Brexit debacle, I’ve always found it an incredible distraction from the real, terrifying issue affecting us all – the climate crisis.

Brexit seems to have grouped people into one of three camps: The ‘do or die’ leavers; the ardent remainers; and the majority in the middle which is just sick to death of the whole thing and wants it to go away.

But it is not just sapping our individual strength as a worrying article in Sunday’s Observer reports.

The obsession with the ‘B’ word is stopping us using our focus and expertise in science, the environment and meteorology – for which we could and should feel very proud, as well as damaging our reputation amongst the global community.

It’s difficult to believe that others will listen to us if we aren’t doing enough ourselves

Russell Jones Russell Jones Content and communications manager

We all need 2020 vision

I and others have written here on The Hub before about just how important and pivotal 2020 will be in terms of tackling and reversing the effects of the climate crisis. 

Thankfully, there is growing awareness of the disaster facing humanity and this is why we are seeing schoolchildren going on strike each Friday and climate activists dragging boats into the centre of our cities.

Both are reacting to the fact that we have just 11 years left to fix the problems of global warming.

That is why 2020 is seen as a pivotal year in the struggle to mitigate the harm that we are doing to our planet. If we don’t put measures in place within the next year or two, it may simply be too late to reverse the damaging effects we have already inflicted on the earth.

Failure to use our best capabilities

Under the headline “Political chaos is stalling vital action on climate crisis – expert”, the article by the Observer’s science editor, Robin McKie quotes leading expert Baroness Brown, a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change: “Britain has one of the world’s best capabilities for dealing with the climate crisis but is failing to make use of it”.

Last week she warned: “We have the ingredients to do good things in response to climate change but are not making use of them”.

Our failure to find ways of adapting to changing weather conditions has been brutally highlighted over the last summer with severe flooding causing train delays and nearly breeching the dam at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, whilst simultaneously causing record temperatures.

Baroness Brown is reported as saying that the country has made little progress: “In planning to protect farmland and wildlife from intense storms and changing weather systems, or tackle health threats from rising heat”.

Do as I say, not as I do

The knock on effect of this is that when the UK seeks to persuade other governments to find more ways to urgently tackle the climate crisis, our own failure to look at what we ourselves are doing is damaging our argument.

The article reports Baroness Brown as saying: “We have been distracted by Brexit,” and pointing to pressures on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to find replacements for the European common agricultural policy instead of being able to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Apparently the Government is also seeking to host a 2020 international summit on the 5th anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, but it seems difficult to believe that other nations will be willing to listen to us if we aren’t seen to be doing enough ourselves

… or are still obsessing over Brexit!

Russell Jones is content and communications manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK