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At a time when we need it most, political consensus on climate is under threat | Science & Tech News

In the early 1980s, the concept of a “just transition” was introduced by the US labour movement. The movement argued that as clean air and water laws were implemented for health and environmental reasons, it was essential to ensure that the jobs lost due to these regulations were replaced with new opportunities.

This idea has gained popularity among environmentalists today. Without a guarantee of a “just transition,” it becomes challenging to reach consensus and make progress towards addressing the urgent need for societal changes to tackle climate change.

An example of this challenge was seen in the recent by-election in Uxbridge. The Conservative candidate won the election by campaigning against the Labour mayor of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which aims to tackle pollution. While cleaner air would benefit everyone, especially the poorest members of society, concerns arose regarding their ability to afford replacing their vehicles in the midst of financial struggles.

This example highlights the importance of considering the impact of climate policies on the most vulnerable communities. It also raises questions about how to balance the need for immediate action on climate change with the economic realities faced by many individuals.

Another extreme example is the “Just Stop Oil” campaign, where protesters aim to disrupt daily life to force politicians to take action against fossil fuels. However, by targeting ordinary people during a time of economic uncertainty and rising living costs, these protests can lead to a backlash against climate action.

The failure to address these concerns and ensure a just transition risks undermining the political consensus on climate change. The lack of progress from political parties and their ambivalence towards net-zero targets further exacerbates this problem.

It is crucial to find solutions that address both the urgency of climate action and the economic realities faced by individuals. The rebuilding of the economy to avoid greater climate extremes can offer new jobs and a healthier future, which is what most people in Britain desire from their government.

However, the current situation suggests that we may be moving away from this future rather than towards it, which is a significant political failure, especially as the world faces the prospect of record-breaking heat this year.



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