Column: Our Climate Emergency

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 11th October:

The sizeable protests to push for greater action in tackling climate change have been on the news again recently, not least as blockades take place down in Westminster.

They follow a recent international ‘day of action’, that last month saw people around the world take part in mass demonstrations to raise the issue of environmental change.

From Munich to Mexico City, New York to New Delhi, and Brisbane to Barnsley, millions of people, young and old, came together to show their willing for action to prevent the devastating consequences of climate change.

Outside our town hall people from our community did the same, and I’m delighted to see our local council agrees that urgent action needs to be taken.

They have declared a climate emergency, and set in place their strategy to make Barnsley carbon neutral.

And we need action at every level.

From making small and simple changes in our own lives, to changes made with help from the council, and wholesale transformations by the Government, the climate crisis can only be prevented by treating it as that: a crisis.

There’s no time for tinkering around the edges, or ploughing ahead with ill-advised alternatives such as fracking that ignore local community needs.

Because the environment isn’t just the green, natural spaces we see around us that desperately need preserving. 

It’s the basis of what we eat and drink, our economy and livelihoods, and the ecosystems that keep the natural world around us functioning.

Increasing temperatures can lead to droughts and food shortages, for instance.

Rising sea levels threaten global coastal communities and may force mass migrations. 

Ultimately, our lives and the environment around us are inescapably linked.

So I implore everyone to do what they can to make their own lives that bit more environmentally friendly.

Whether it’s making that extra effort to recycle, cycling or walking on those short journeys that don’t really need a car, or supporting local businesses that use homegrown produce to cut down on air miles and our carbon footprint.

Let’s do our bit in Barnsley, and I’ll keep pushing the Government in Westminster to make the necessary changes across the country.

Because at this crisis point, faced with the real prospect of an irredeemably damaged environment that could widen social and economic inequality and hit vulnerable people hardest, the cost of not acting now is simply too high.