Big Issue Vendor

The people and the science are united – so why aren’t our politicians?

Climate activist Joe Brindle says every party must do more to stop climate change and empower the young people trying to save their future

The science is clear – time to act on the climate crisis is running out. On September 20 more than 300,000 people took to the streets around the UK demanding stronger action on climate change. The global climate strike – both in the UK and globally – was a record-shattering event with almost eight million people calling for climate justice and a liveable planet. That this was the largest climate mobilisation in history certainly shows burgeoning public support for climate action.

For huge numbers of young people around the country this is distinctly the Climate Election. We understand that our futures and the very things in this world that we care for are on the line. The next few years will determine how the UK reaches net-zero carbon emissions and when. We know that in order to work toward climate justice a government serious about tackling the climate emergency must be elected in December.

The course we take to tackle the climate crisis at home will also determine how we address it at a global scale, and to meet the challenge we face any new government must have the ambition to match it.

A week ago I demonstrated outside the Conservative Campaign HQ chanting the words “debate our future”. It is not surprising that the leader of a government that has failed to accept its responsibility in combatting this crisis is reluctant to talk about it. [Boris] Johnson’s complete refusal to join the debate despite heavy public pressure demonstrates that he is truly behind on climate change. The climate crisis deserves its own debate because it is an issue of a totally new magnitude.

At UK Student Climate Network we’re clear in our demands that we need decisive action on the climate crisis, and that means changing the way we do things. Not only are we calling for a transformative Green New Deal – a national action plan to rapidly eliminate emissions and transform the economy – but for radical changes in our education system and the way in which young people engage with democracy.

It is obvious to me that our politics takes short-term temporary gain over long-term prosperity. This creates an unsustainable society and is exactly why we need a Future Generations Bill, to ensure that our leaders look ahead further than the next election and implement true long-termism in politics. We need our political systems to work with the future in mind, with politicians lending themselves toward long-term thinking, and incorporating the views of young people into policy making. After all, we’re the ones who have the biggest stake in the future.

Joe Brindle is the Schools Working Group Coordinator for the UK Student Climate Network