Blog: Give the best gift this Christmas, Save the Planet – Guest blog by Ronagh Craddock

Ronagh Craddock is the climate change lead for UNISON Northern.

It is now officially December which means we can talk about Christmas, and I know that the best gift that I can give to my friends and family this Christmas is to save the planet. Tackling the climate crisis sounds like a big task – and it is. It’s too much for any one person individually. That’s why I need your help.

I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t know that it was achievable. In fact, we’ve had the solutions for a long time. We just haven’t had the political will to make the changes we so desperately need.

What’s the problem? 

We’ve heard the term climate emergency a lot this year, and the school strikers and extinction rebellion are making sure we remember what an emergency means. The clock is ticking and already over a year has passed since climate scientists announced that we had 12 years to prevent irreversible damage.

And what have we done with that year?

The public have definitely responded. UNISON members are worried about our futures and futures of family, friends, children and grandchildren. We have been calling loudly and clearly for urgent actions – working with employers, councils and NHS Trusts to take action – but we remain on a catastrophic course. This is because we do not have the political will and leadership to tackle this problem in our current government.

Instead we have:

  • A plan to decarbonise by 2050 (20 years too late)
  • Increased public spending on fossil fuels
  • Planning decisions for new coal mines
  • Offsetting – basically paying a poorer person to do the work and claiming the credit
  • A temporary pause on fracking
  • Commitment to oil and gas playing a key role in our future economy & energy supply
  • A government that is comfortable with a hard right Brexit, regardless of the impact
  • A climate plan that is entirely dependent on “ speculative negative emissions technology” (hoping, fingers crossed, that future generations will come up with a technology to achieve net emissions)

So of course it is no surprise that we have not met any of our carbon budgets – because there’s no strategy or investment to back up empty promises. The government naively think they can delay on this, and ask Santa to sort it out in 20 years time when the damage is done and it’s too late. They say that they care about people and the planet, but the truth is that they wouldn’t be doing this if they did. We are on a catastrophic course.

What’s the solution? 

Thankfully, the Labour Party has the political will to sort this mess out. They led the way for Parliament to declare a climate emergency, and if they are elected they have promised:

  • Majority decarbonisation by 2030;
  • A Green Industrial Revolution – that means a union led just transition to rewarding, well paid jobs, lower energy bills and whole new industries to revive parts of our country that have been neglected for too long;
  • To create at least 1 million well paid unionised jobs and guarantee energy workers retraining and a new, unionised job on equivalent terms and conditions;
  • To bring our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership so that energy and water are treated as rights rather than commodities;
  • The provision of universal services through a fully funded public sector, including safe affordable housing, free quality healthcare, secure affordable energy, affordable quality public transport and a socially and environmentally just food system;
  • Proper financial investment to make this vision a reality;
  • To tackle the 100 companies globally responsible for the majority of carbon emissions;
  • To invest in renewable energy, which will reduce household energy bills;
  • To permanently ban fracking;
  • To plant two billion trees by 2040;

The Conservatives say that all of this is too expensive. They fail to recognise that we don’t have a choice, This is the single most valuable investment that we can make.

How can you help? 

Christmas magic and Santa are not going to resolve these problems, but you can. For your family and friends, for people all around the world, and for future generations who have not contributed to this crisis, all you need to do is vote Labour in our General Election on 12 December 2019, and encourage your communities to do the same, to bring in a Labour government for Christmas.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Ronagh Craddock