Come 2035, if I’m still around to splash about in the shower, there will be no more gas boilers at all in the United Kingdom. That’s as things stand now.
Nor will there be diesel cars for sale, nor petrol ones either by 2030 — as things stand now.
But as things stand right now, all of those UK government plans to make Britain greener and ensure Britons do their bit to make the planet we all share green and greener, are circling the plug hole, much like the water from my shower.
Since the beginning of August, there has been a distinctive shift in the thinking and actions of the Conservative government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Those green commitments to international treaties and the global community … well, it seems as if they are being pushed aside and being trampled on. Or simply ripped up. Or just plain ignored as if they were never made in the first instance.
Global climate crisis
All anyone has to do is look outside and see how much our climate has changed. Wildfires across Canada on a scale that’s unprecedented. Deaths in Hawaii from more fires spurred by unseasonal and extreme weather. Storms in Norway that hit with a ferociousness not seen in recorded history.
Southern Europe is sweltering in a deadly heatwave that has baked millions since early May. Sea ice in the Antarctic that’s at its most reduced rate ever. Harsh monsoons. Drought. Sea ice in the Arctic that mostly doesn’t exist.
Our planet is being turned upside down by climate change. And the only way to change this for ourselves if not for all of the future generations that come is to lower our carbon emissions.
And to do that, we all have — MUST — do our part.
We need to make conscious decisions in our everyday lives and alter our thinking. And when I write ‘all’ that means ALL. Governments. Nations. Organisations. Companies. Corporations. Global bodies. Thinking globally, acting locally.
That’s why governments are committing themselves to becoming carbon neutral over the next two decades. Of course timelines and methodologies vary — the important thing is that we act now and make decisions to change our behaviour. No exceptions ... well ... except …
Except if you’re a Conservative party election strategist right now. For months now, going back to the time when Boris Johnson was prime minister, the Conservatives have been losing their grip on power.
Liz Truss — remember her? — during her 45 days in power, couldn’t turn the party’s fortunes around. And so far, in a little more than 10 months of Rishi Sunak’s time in 10 Downing Street, neither can he.
Sure, he’s made five simple pledges to try and convince UK voters that his party deserves a fourth consecutive term in office. But after 13 years, five PMs, countless changes of direction and even more countless ministers, the Conservatives still lage in the polls by a good 20 points.
But those strategists have figured out that there just might be — slim, but still a very slight chance — that they can squeak out even a minority win at the next general election that has to be held sometime over the next 16 months.
Ironically, it was the voters in the Unbridge constituency that was held by Boris that got the Conservative and Sunak advisers thinking. And acting.
Against all of the polling, the Conservative candidate managed to eke out a win. Voters in the area on the edge of London showed their opposition to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) planned for the greater city by Mayor Sadiq Khan, charging owners of older, more polluting vehicles, for driving into Central London.
Here’s the rub: We all acknowledge that we have to do something. But when it comes to having to pay more to counter climate change, those global sentiments become very wobbly. And that’s enough for the Conservative back room crew to see light.
Over the past three weeks, Sunak has declared himself to “be on the side of drivers”, opposing local council plans up and down the UK to introduce car-free neighbourhoods or bring in 20mph zones to reduce emissions.
And he travelled to Aberdeen in Scotland to detail that the UK Government would be issuing some 100 exploration licences for oil and gas in British waters.
There’s a new coal mine planned for Cumbria in northwest England that required a public inquiry. That’s likely to be stalled with Whitehall having the final say. And the government is thinking again about getting rid of wood burners from people’s homes. And that commitment on banning the sale of new internal combustion engines by 2030 … well … that’s not really a firm deadline after all. The government suggests.
Stop. Just stop. Don’t go there. Don’t roll back these vital commitments on a quick political roll of the dice.
Playing with everyone’s future and the future of this planet isn’t worth it. Otherwise, we’re all down that spout together.