Claire's blog

General Election 4th July

In the narrow window of time remaining to avert dangerous climate tipping points, the next UK government must bring real solutions to move our economy off fossil fuels. It must invest to transform the economy for a cleaner, fairer future, and address the interlocking social crises this country faces.

The election announcement on 22 May was certainly memorable. As Rishi Sunak spoke in the rain, Things Can Only Get Better was played loudly in the background by protesters.

But - 'better' is not enough in a time of climate breakdown. We have had a year of unprecedented global temperatures, with climate disasters around the world, and climate scientists aghast by the world's failure, even now, to step away from fossil fuels.

Time to make your voice heard

It's always worth lobbying MPs - even if they may seem unresponsive, it gives them a sense of what their constituents care about. But it's actually much easier to get them to listen before they've even secured their seat in Parliament. The next government is expected to have a lot of first-time MPs. Before they get in, they need to hear that voters want action on the climate emergency.

There are lots of ways to do this: get on the streets, contact your candidates by email, join together with others in local groups to organise a climate hustings, or attend general hustings and ask a climate question, write to your local paper.

Restore Nature Now march, London, 22 June

Before the election was called, over 150 campaign groups and NGOs had already signed up to support this national demonstration to Restore Nature Now. Demands including no new fossil fuels and investment in climate action. This will be a great opportunity to create a visual statement of the general public demanding a safe future and liveable planet where people and nature can not just survive but thrive.

We'll be marching together with our friends on the climate justice bloc. If you're outside London, some coaches have been organised.

Writing to candidates

You can find out how to contact your election candidates on the Who Can I Vote For website.

Speaking out on the climate emergency, in whatever way, helps break the silence and raise awareness. Remember your ultimate aim is to convince someone who may be your MP for the next five years, not just to vent (totally understandable) frustration and anger at inaction! 

You might like to read this guidance from Hope for the Future about writing a letter that's more likely to be read.

A personal appeal - you can choose an angle that's personal to you, or that you think will resonate with the candidate you're writing to, whether that's climate jobs; fuel poverty and the need for home insulation, the impact of climate change and floods on UK farmers, the failure of our planning system which encourages mass expansion of roads and airports - or even just one of the recent news stories about the impacts of climate breakdown around the world or concerns for your children. 

Local insight - You can find information here about your own constituency - the proportion of people who consider climate change a high priority, who would support renewable energy projects in the local area, who are worried about energy bills or are in fuel poverty.

The big picture - As the planet heats up, the impacts of climate breakdown multiply, and we are running out of time. The UK is not on track to meet its climate commitments. The bottom line is that the next government must stop new fossil fuel extraction and damaging infrastructure like airport expansion and mass road-building. And massive investment in the infrastructure we do need - insulating homes, public transport, renewable energy, creating a workforce for the climate emergency. For example, Friends of the Earth estimates £50 billion a year or 2% of GDP - slightly less than is currently spent on defence to deliver lasting benefits. The UK also needs to pay its fair share of climate finance to countries facing the worst climate impacts to help them adapt and fund their own emissions reductions.

Ask them if they would back these policies:

  • No new oil fields in the North Sea, including Rosebank. A just transition plan for workers
  • Mass investment in climate jobs, including setting up a National Climate Service
  • A comprehensive home insulation programme, publicly funded
  • Public ownership of energy and transport
  • A planning system that works for the climate, scrapping mass road building and halting airport expansion

A National Climate Service would create and coordinate directly employed public sector jobs to cut emissions across key sectors of the economy, with national planning and coordination of strategy and workforce training, and local delivery. Find out more about climate jobs

Climate focus: Coral Reefs - victims of our fossil fuel addiction

In their current form, coral reefs have been around for around 60 million years. A quarter of all marine life, including over 4,000 species of fish, are dependent on coral reefs at some point in their life cycle. But these extraordinary ecosystems cannot survive the regular marine heatwaves caused by global heating.

In the 1980s, the first observed incidents occurred of coral reefs turning white over extended areas. Scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg discovered the cause. Corals are animals related to jellyfish and anemones. Their polyps take food from the water but they also depend on symbiotic algae which provide them with an additional food source through photosynthesis. Under heat stress, corals expel these algae, leaving their tissue a ghostly white. Without their algae, corals slowly starve, and may die. By the time of the first global bleaching event in 1998, Hoegh-Guldberg was able to predict that as early as the 2020s some reefs could be bleaching six or more times a decade - far too frequent to give them time to recover. The scientist was branded an ‘alarmist’. But in 2018 a landmark review by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that if the earth warmed by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels this “will result in the further loss of 90% of reef-building corals compared to today”.  

In March 2023, global sea surface temperatures started breaking records, and have stayed that way since. The warming impact of El Niño has further exacerbated the heating caused by fossil fuel burning. These extreme ocean temperatures have led to what is believed to be the worst planet-wide coral bleaching event ever. This is the fourth global bleaching event on record and the second in the last 10 years. A global bleaching event is declared when at least 12% of corals in each of the main ocean basins - Pacific, Atlantic and Indian - experience bleaching-level heat stress within a 12-month period.

Climate focus: Wildfires and megadrought in Chile

In the past days, wildfires have ravaged central Chile with a death toll of at least 131, and more than 300 people still missing at the time of writing. These fires are the most deadly, but not the first in recent years - six of the most destructive fire seasons on record in Chile have occurred in the past decade. Particularly notable are 2017 and February 2023 when fierce fires raged across the country killing dozens, injuring thousands, and leaving many people homeless. 

The fires come on the back of an extreme heatwave. Chile’s capital Santiago reached 37.3C on 31 January, the country’s third-highest recorded temperature in more than a century. This heatwave has affected large parts of the continent

On top of the long-term global heating trend, temperatures have been pushed even higher by El Niño. This summer heatwave was preceded by an extraordinary winter heatwave across much of South America. In August 2023, temperatures in the Chilean Andes rose as high as 38.9C in mid winter. 

The long-term trend is just as worrying. For over a decade, Chile has been grappling with a megadrought. This is a crisis of climatic change and lack of rainfall, but also a social and economic crisis of water management. Huge amounts of water are consumed by monoculture tree plantations to the south of Santiago and the avocado orchards in the north. Meanwhile the glaciers of the Andes continue to shrink. In 2022, water rationing was introduced in the capital, Santiago, the capital.