On Monday, I was privileged to host students from the fabulous St Bonaventure’s boys school in my constituency, who are working with the East London Citizens Organisation and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD, learning about politics and campaigning for social justice and a brighter future. They wanted to talk to me about housing, Brexit and the violence that has blighted our community, but most of all they wanted to talk to me about climate change. Their dedication and knowledge gave me hope.
Xavier told me that we need to stop trees being destroyed for developments in the UK. Ethan told me how important it is for us to invest more in research and development to produce the green innovations that will help us to reduce emissions. He wants to become a scientist and help with those challenges—I reckon he’ll do it. Arpon told me we needed to stop fracking and rely on renewables—not just because of the carbon consequences, but because of the impact on clean water and the local environment. Ethan—another Ethan—told me how inspired he is by the idea of a green new deal in the US, and what will make a green industrial revolution here. Thomas told me that we need so many, many more charging points for electric cars.
Thomas is right, Arpon is right, Xavier is right and Ethan—both Ethans—is right. What we need is a genuine commitment from the Government to act. Oceans rising, deforestation, wildfires, hundreds of millions at risk of flooding, displacement, drought, disease and starvation. Mass extinction, with huge numbers of species lost. That is what we face. We need a commitment to implement green policies on a scale that matches the enormous challenges that face us. Transformation of our economy, homes, transport, agriculture and energy systems. Transformation of our entire society, creating greater social justice as well as securing our very future on planet Earth. We know what we need to do. Let’s get on with it.