Last summer, constituents met Alan Campbell MP and reminded him that the UK, as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, has pledged to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C’ – an enormously challenging goal that allows no latitude for carbon indulgence.
We asked him to make his position clear. Did he support the agreement as an example of ‘grandstanding’, or did he do so in good faith and would he commit to, as the agreement puts it, ‘fully support the objectives and help bring their ambitious goals to life with real action’?
We could be forgiven if we conclude we have received his answer in his backing for the expansion of what is the most polluting mode of travel of all.
I don’t question Mr Campbell’s sincerity when he says there are plans to address the environmental impact of flying, but expanding air travel will make the daunting challenge we face a great deal harder, and all to pander to what is largely polluting for pleasure.
Prof James Hansen, NASA’s former chief climate scientist, says of governments and climate change: “They talk about goals which sound impressive, but the actions are such that it will be impossible to reach those goals.” Just so.
We can enjoy a materially rewarding lifestyle, but only if we take every opportunity to bear down on the use of fossil fuels and direct investment into the opportunities opening up for low-carbon growth.
What we can’t afford to miss out on is a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.
North East Call To Action (NE-CAP) on global poverty and climate change is a group bringing together staff, voluntary representatives and supporters of aid and environmental agencies.
Its patrons are Lord Alan Beith, Rt Rev Paul Butler (Bishop of Durham), Beth Farhat (TUC), Helen Goodman MP, and John Grundy (writer and broadcaster).
Dr David Golding CBE
Newcastle University and North East Call To Action