UK climate change bill: campaign success story

Now that BBC Radio’s idea of entertainment lies in ruins, I think we can confidently predict a revival of cosy 1950s quiz shows. OneWorld Guides offer fertile territory for a new generation of question-setters.

“What do these countries have in common: Guinea-Bissau, Iran and Thailand?”

As I worked on updates for these Guides during the week, I couldn’t help reflecting that it would be difficult to pick three more apparently disparate countries – yet they are united by the threat of climate change.

Even a modest rise in sea level could put the streets of Bangkok underwater (some of them already are!) whilst inundating rice production in Guinea-Bissau. Iran faces the world’s most chronic problem of soil degradation and its critical water management strategies will have to hit a moving target of uncertain rainfall.

I don’t suppose that our MPs were pondering Iranian irrigation channels when they passed the Climate Change Bill into law this week but what a fantastic result! There was a dizzy unreality to the days leading up to the vote as bastions of government resistance to longstanding environmental demands collapsed faster than the England cricket team.

“Please, Mr Miliband, can you raise the 2050 target reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80%?” “Yes, of course, no problem”.

“And it makes no sense to exclude aviation and shipping”. “You’re right. Let’s put them in”.

First we show the world how to mend shattered banks; now we’re streets ahead on global warming. Perhaps anything is politically possible in the crazy slipstream of the financial tornado.

I had visions of directors of climate campaign groups lying in darkened rooms like traumatised hedge fund managers, unable to grasp that events they believed could never happen, did happen.

Sure enough next morning our own director sent a message to say that she would not be coming in. Anuradha has worked tirelessly to reposition OneWorld UK’s programmes in orbit around global warming and certainly deserved what I presumed to be a celebratory hangover.

Something made me look closer at the mail. She was trapped at home by unseasonal snowfall in the Chilterns.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK