The generation leading the charge

September. Back from the summer break, and starting (almost) anew to face daily tasks, work, social commitments, and of course, demanding action to alleviate the climate crisis. I mean, not that climate action took the summer holidays off, but activists are bringing September back with a bang, with the week of Global Climate Action, September 20th - 27th.

Climate action is the most pressing present need for our global society. With climate change impacts being felt across the planet, from extreme weather events and rising sea levels, to failing crops and water shortages, it is (way past) time we really do something about it. We were pleased when the government announced changes to their less-than ambitious targets on emissions - from the ambiguity of “80% lower emissions” to net zero - we are starting to see the shimmer of possibility in our policy-makers decisions.

But. (That’s a big but). 2050 is still over 30 years from now. The IPCC has given us a maximum of 12 years (from 2018) to reverse the effects of deadly climate change - so just where are we getting those additional 20 years from?!

We believe in more ambitious goals

We believe that setting a target for net zero emissions by 2030, is a much more ambitious, while still realistic, goal. Consider, just over ten years from now, a carbon neutral society. Bringing targets forward by over two decades will demonstrate to manufacturers that it is time to step-up, take responsibility, and consider alternative options. Let’s stop allowing big industry to keep churning out the harmful pollutants, and force real, impactful change. Even if we don’t meet these targets, a little off net zero in 10 years time, is still a lot better than “20 years to go until we really need to make changes!” Simply finding different solutions to allow us to continue the way in which we have been living, is not enough, and precisely the issue of our climate’s demise. We cannot continue in the same vein. We must find new ways, new technologies, new economies.

Greta Thunberg, this incredible young girl who has inspired a global movement, is just 16 years old. She has spent far less time on this planet than any of our policy makers, and yet manages to clearly see the very real threat we are facing. “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” This formed part of a speech Greta Thunberg gave in January of this year. Some seven months before we gradually started to hear news about our house (Planet Earth) actually being on fire, over the summer months, in several locations … sounds familiar?

Our house is burning.

Friday 20th was a day of climate strike around the world, and these actions continue this week. We are standing in solidarity with all our young activists, and committing our adult lives to working towards a zero-emissions future. Climate change affects each and every one of us, and for those in especially vulnerable environments, the consequences are already being felt. And those people affected are unable to raise their voices to be heard. So let’s all feel the responsibility of bringing change, and demanding action from those in charge, and those in power.

Young activists in Australia

Sustainable mobility solutions

We are committed to driving forward electric vehicle solutions, for cleaner air and a healthier future. Sunday September 22nd was World Car Free Day, with cities across the world closing roads, and holding spaces for more breathing-friendly events and activities. Motorists were encouraged to walk or cycle (or any other form of emission-free movement you can think of!) and pedestrians everywhere were able to roam the streets, enjoying air free from harmful exhaust pollutants.

This day also marks the end of European Mobility Week - a week-long campaign for European cities, businesses, NGOs and schools explore sustainable transport options and progress towards better mobility in Europe. The theme for this year was “Safe Walking and Cycling” - highlighting the physical and mental health benefits of these forms of movement. Not only do these options impact on individual health, but as zero-emission transports, they have far greater benefits for the quality of our air.

Those cities which promote alternative, and sustainable methods of transport are found to have a greater quality of life, with less congestion, and reduced levels of transport-based pollution. European Mobility Week celebrates those cities which are making the move towards emissions-free transport options, and providing constituents with greater options for more environmentally-friendly transport. Greater Manchester was the Winner of the 7th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning, after impressing the jury with their use of new technologies to increase the amount of journeys using sustainable modes of transport.

Listen to the science

As Kevin Anderson stated at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Conference in July of this year, the UK must reframe the question, and not ask “what can the UK car sector deliver in terms of reducing emissions?”, but instead strive to meet the requirements as set by Paris [Agreement]. After all, it is carbon budgeting, not long-term targets, which are vital in mitigating further temperature rises.

Greta Thunberg addressed the UN General Assembly on the 23rd September, once again urging political leaders to “listen to the scientists”. She reminded us that pushing for continual economic growth in the face of the climate emergency is at best, ignorant, and at worst, cruel.

“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Greta Thunberg, September 23rd 2019, UN General Assembly

These young activists, these voices calling for change, demanding decisions, and storming the systems, aren’t the voices we’d traditionally turn to for authority. But they are the voices who have risen the loudest, and who really, have the most at stake. Children, forsaking time at school, to bring attention to our biggest human emergency. Children, schooling adults. Their futures. In our hands.

Young people, children, youth. Often dismissed and told not to stick their noses in, or not to talk about things they don’t “fully understand”. But who could understand more clearly the perils of our current climate, when they are trying to imagine, and work towards, an uncertain future?

If not us, who? If not now, when?

(photo source: thoughthub .com .au)

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