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Opinion

Why it’s time for a law to protect our future generations

A new bill proposed by Big Issue founder Lord John Bird and Green MP Caroline Lucas aims to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the country and tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics head on.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2021. This is the year that we have left the European Union, the year that the UK is hosting COP26 and the year that, hopefully, we recover from the pandemic with social kindness aplenty and planning for the longer-term. New Year is all about thinking about the future and wellbeing. So we want to share with you The Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow Campaign, which seeks the enactment of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill.

“What’s that?” I hear you say! I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful: The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. But it’s a Bill that I’m championing to become law. It aims to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the country, by ensuring that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The ultimate in social kindness.

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We need to get away from the crooked culture of short-termism. There are manifold blessings of democracy but one of the curses is that politicians always have their eyes on the next election and never the next century.

One of the benefits of being a Peer in the House of Lords is that we aren’t constrained by political cycles in the same way that our colleagues in the Commons are. But that’s why this Bill is so very important: it emphasises the status of embedding prevention and the interests of our future generations at the heart of UK policy making, aiming to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics head on. It might seem costly but in the long run the savings will be incalculable.

With a turbulent 2020, we could all do with a bit of a hope just now. The Government is well-placed to deliver that type of optimism. It is vital that the Government proves to the public that it is learning the lessons from the Covid crisis, and that it has mechanisms in place to adequately prepare for the future, in an attempt to prevent further pandemics and other existential threats from happening.

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We need systems change to prevent the worst aspects of climate change.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill provides an opportunity to tackle significant issues like these, including matters as vast as climate change and poverty. It is imperative that we defeat climate change before it defeats us. We have to be proactive about such a mortal peril. It is little use the government asking everyone to do their infinitesimally small individual contribution. Such contributions are much appreciated. But when confronting such a gargantuan cataclysm it behoves the government to take precipitate and resolute action. The Government has just tinkered thus far whereas the situation demands an overhaul. We need systems change to prevent the worst aspects of climate change.

But, we cannot push the Government to pass this legislation without your help.

If you do one thing today, please visit wordpress.bigissue.com/t4t to contact your MP via the draft email and/or draft tweet, available on the site.

Spending just two minutes of your time doing this will be a huge help in raising the profile of the Bill’s scheduled second reading in the House of Commons later this month.

2020 was a year when Covid and Brexit have knocked almost every other issue off the agenda. However, the same cannot hold true for 2021.

Time and tide waiteth for no man: neither does climate change or youth issues.

We face rising unemployment but we also have opportunities to invest now to take people out of poverty, dismantle inequalities and protect future generations from both the worst impacts of the climate crisis and pandemics.

Thank you for taking action together today, to change tomorrow for the better and for generations to come.

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