I was reminded of the pungent comment by Professor James Hansen, formerly NASA’s chief climate scientist:
“They talk about goals which sound impressive, but… the actions are such that it will be impossible to reach those goals.”
I also remembered reading a strong statement by Gordon Brown, when he was Prime Minister, that “tough decisions” would have to be made if we were to rise to the challenge of climate change. But later in that very week his government gave the go-ahead for expansion at Heathrow Airport! I thought, “Does the irony of this not strike him?”, great and able man that he undoubtedly was, who had been such a champion of the debt and global poverty campaign.
The occasion was the publication in the Whitley Bay ‘News Guardian’ of a statement by Alan Campbell MP, welcoming the decision to construct a third runway at Heathrow, and the letter which follows, co-authored with Malcolm Scott of Friends of the Earth, was published in the paper on 20th November.
“We were both disappointed to read Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell’s endorsement of the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow, in his regular column in the News Guardian (Oct 27). It was the case because, only a week earlier (Oct 20), campaigners had been pictured with Mr Campbell near St Mary’s lighthouse, presenting him with a T-shirt showing the words ‘MPs against climate change’. As we told him then, ‘We’ve had the promises – now we need the policies!’
“Of course a new runway will increase economic activity – in the North-East as well as in the rest of country – but that is only in the short term. In the long term, it will make a mockery of the Government’s promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions to an acceptable level. Climate change is already with us, as climate-related disasters become regular events throughout the world, but if we carry on with ‘business as usual’, these events will turn out to be only the foothills of an Everest of climate chaos.
“There is a better way – it’s to honour the Paris Agreement, of which the UK is a signatory, in spirit and letter! As the Agreement puts it, if ‘everyone fully supports it and helps bring its ambitious goals to life with real action’, then and only then we have a real chance of bequeathing to our children and grandchildren ‘a safe and prosperous world’.
Dr David Golding CBE, Newcastle University and North East CALL TO ACTION
Malcolm Scott, Coordinator of North Tyneside Friends of the Earth