7 May 2017
The civilisation-threatening potential of Climate Change has been known for decades. However no election in this country has ever seen Climate Change presented as a top priority, and this year will be no different. As it has been at every opportunity spurned, not for lack of trying by the Green Party, this is a disaster. Theresa May’s U-turn, quasi-second referendum, saboteur smashing, unwanted, unnecessary realpolitik power grab henceforth to be known as the "2017 General Election" will be fought, all seem to accept, on the shape of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. On the left side of the political spectrum Labour’s ongoing psychodrama will take front and centre in the national press and be used to blot out the progressive agenda. Issues of “leadership,” “trust” and “just not getting him” will be raised. Miserably for the astonishing number of people in this country living an increasingly precarious life, their issues will be almost ignored by the ruling party. Climate Change won’t be doubted in words by the three mainstream parties - it may be referenced in empty promises as the Cameron government did - it will not be considered the key issue. It is.
The most frustrating aspect of the mainstream tendency to ignore Climate Change is that it contains within its challenges solutions to many of the commonly accepted problems to the UK’s economic concerns. This remains true whatever shape negotiations with the EU conclude. The UK economy is too heavily concentrated in the financial services sector, economic power is concentrated in the South East, and the manufacturing that defined 150 years of economic activity has died taking the lifeblood of England’s northern cities and towns with it. Much of the nation is crying out for investment and there is a way to provide it. Whether it is an accepted political reality or not at this moment, cars as they are currently thought of are done. The Electric Vehicle (EV) is the future and it’s already here. Almost every car that drives our streets today needs replacing as soon as possible, it’s a necessity and a massive opportunity. Furthermore, electricity generation itself must be divested from fossil fuel sources at the greatest possible haste - the world has a need for all the solar and wind generation it can get. The scope for investments sure of returns are vast.
If the UK exits the EU our leading industry will suffer. Britain’s financial sector is quite literally the envy of Europe. The more restrictions that can be placed on London’s access to the EU the more likely world financial institutions will leave the City for other European centres of finance. It will be a clear goal for the EU nations to enhance the likelihood of this scenario during negotiations. If Britain must shoot itself in the foot by leaving the EU it will be forced to radically change how it manages its economy. Manufacturing the technology the future will be built on is a perfect solution, both to diversify the British economy and establish the basis for our future trade with the world.
The longer we ignore Climate Change as a vital issue during elections the less likely the nation will be in a position to take advantage of the economic opportunities necessitated by the changes civilisation needs to save itself. The world’s economy will change and already has. It’s simply a matter of who gets the biggest head start. We are far from world leaders at this point but as a country we have the investment potential and environment to become clean energy and transport leaders - if we only prioritise it. Britain as a nation will be hard hit by the effects of Climate Change, we can only alleviate the difficulties to come by investing now.
This election won’t be about Climate Change. However, the issues it will be fought on by the three “old” parties: Brexit, Economics, Leadership, Migration and the quality of our politicians invariably come back to Climate Change. Because while it doesn’t matter in the national discourse the reality is it will overwhelm everything if ignored, it is the central issue of our time. It is what will drive the next century’s migration, change the world’s economy, test all political leaders, decide Europe’s future and shape Britain and the world permanently. This election is about Climate Change, they just don’t admit it.
- Zachary Gomperts-Mitchelson