In British politics nowadays, the rise of populism has led to discontent over Britain’s position within the European Union. The Government listened, and we are now scheduled to leave the group. Yet, it has not been as easy as expected, and negotiations have brushed other crucial issues to the side. One of those issues happens to be Global Warming.
Since the Industrial Revolution, it has been clear that the climate has deteriorated at a concerning rate. Still, not enough seems to be being done, perhaps as enhanced technology is seen by many as a fair compromise. ‘Back in the day’ climate change was seen as an issue, but one that could be contained, stopped even. Nowadays the problem is more prominent, with experts suggesting that by 2030, the planet will reach the point where we can’t stop runaway climate change. Whether genuine or fearmongering, the point still stands — global warming is real and needs to be kept to a minimum.
There seems to be consensus around this viewpoint, with march after march occurring throughout 2019. Inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, there have been student protests globally at a monthly rate, asking world leaders to act. These protests have come in unison with the formation and action of Extinction Rebellion. With a slogan of ‘Fight for life Rebel for life’, the organisation has seen vast media attention, with controversial protests disrupting the livelihoods of 500,000 and leading to over 200 arrests. Regardless of one’s view on the group and their methods, it must be said that climate change is now well and truly back on the agenda — at least outside Westminster.
Regrettably, as the climate changes, the Government’s stance fundamentally does not. Myopically, and without consensus, Prime Minister Theresa May undermined the youth’s ability to practice democracy, describing the protests as ‘disruptive’ and a ‘waste’ of lesson time. Although May acknowledged the problem, ignorance towards the younger generation’s concern is worrying, especially considering the dishevelled state of Parliament. When examining the reasons for Government reluctance, it’s hard to look further than the Conservatives’ recent shift to the right. In addition to a ‘hard-Brexit’ stance fuelled by the European Research Group, the Government now appears to prioritise the economy and harbours an appetite for business over the issue that should be a main concern: our declining environment.
A far-right Conservative Government led by Boris Johnson is unlikely to see climate change as part of its main agenda. Add the influence of the Brexit Party, and ‘unlikely’ becomes certain. The Brexit Party was formed to honour its namesake, not even producing a manifesto for the EU elections. As a Thatcherite, Eurosceptic group, they would prioritise the exploitation of a free-market capitalist system than help save our planet. To add to this, the six-month-old party are consistently appearing in the top two in opinion polls. That influence could potentially materialise into a coalition government with the Conservatives.
Despite the negativity, there is hope. Parliament has passed a motion to declare an environmental and climate emergency. Looking beyond Government ignorance, it is a relief to see a majority of representatives approach the crisis in climate change with sober eyes. As for the Tories, without a fundamental shift in stance, they may join our planet in facing a position beyond repair, and themselves left to the fate of the woolly mammoth.