IT’S oh, so quiet, sang Björk, in her unique, breathy way, 17 years ago. And it is. The woolly mammoth in the room, of course, is the climate crisis. Scientists have been slapping their foreheads and publishing ever starker warnings for many years now. This is the make-or-break decade, they keep telling us: ten years to get our collective act together and address the biggest threat humankind has ever faced, to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Yet last week’s Queen’s Speech made zero mention of climate. Four minutes in, we got: “My government will invest in new green industries to create jobs.”

That was it.

The Queen was merely a mouthpiece for Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, of course. And it’s no surprise to anyone remotely concerned about environmental issues that Johnson has completely ignored the defining issue of our time.

National recovery – the top priority identified in the speech – is of course imperative. But this was a real opportunity to tackle recovery hand-in-hand with positive climate and ecological action, and to genuinely commit to a united, all-hands-on-deck approach across industry, science and technology, energy, agriculture and food production, education, travel, transport and health sectors.

It was an opportunity to get behind the far-reaching Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill proposed by Caroline Lucas and endorsed by 107 MPs from all opposition parties.

With six months until Glasgow is to host COP26, and only three weeks until the G7 Summit in Cornwall, it is an opportunity missed. And it’s not just the Tories. Strikingly absent from our recent Scottish election campaign were climate and nature, except for in the Scottish Greens' manifesto, with a passing mention from the Lib Dems and Labour.

The CEE Bill commits to ambitious action on climate and biodiversity, greater protection for nature and stronger criteria for justice and responsibility. Central to the bill is the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly, to ensure a just transition to a carbon-free society and give power to the people.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary petition is circulating, proposing an urgent shift to a “Wellbeing Economy” that puts the health of people and planet first. “To deliver a sustainable and equitable recovery,” it calls on the Treasury to “target social and environmental goals, rather than fixating on short-term profit and growth.”

These are the radical ideas we need.

I recall the first time I truly grasped the urgency of the climate crisis – reading the opening pages of David Suzuki's 1998 book The Sacred Balance. Suzuki quoted the 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, signed by more than 1,600 scientists. Their warning was dire and has been repeated, in various forms, by various groups since.

Dominant economic growth models, says the CEE Bill Alliance, are causing cascading threats to civilisation. They say the bill offers an unparalleled opportunity to address “climate-nature breakdown and Earth system collapse.” They don’t mince their words. Let’s just say the words idyllic, happy and peace do not feature.

Humanity is already transgressing four of nine critical planetary boundaries identified by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Punching through these limits leads us nowhere pretty. We’re already at 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. Our projected carbon emissions are two to three times higher than required for the UK to meet the 1.5C target. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee says honouring the UK’s pledge to transition to zero emission cars by 2035 remains a “huge challenge” in the absence of clear plans for how to achieve this.

What will it take for our governments to sit up and fully heed these warnings?

Net zero is problematic: it's a burn now, capture later approach. The public are broadly behind bolder measures, with 58 per cent of voters polled by Opinium believing international climate agreements should be made legally binding.

Amongst other measures, we need to demand fossil fuel divestment, together with a declining cap and binding targets. Economic growth – mentioned twice as a priority in the Queen’s Speech – with its obsession with consuming resources truly has crashed and burned as a viable doctrine for living.

I hate scaremongering journalism. I much prefer constructive thinking and writing. Similarly, it’s a tricky balance to communicate these issues to our kids without swamping them in despair. But the solutions are there. And it’s falling to citizens to demand the commitment and cooperation of our politicians.

Some solutions are obvious: stop burning fossil fuels, stop chopping down trees, shift to sustainable food production and establish participative democracy. And if they still won’t listen? Civil disobedience, argues Jonathan Porritt in Hope in Hell: A Decade to Confront the Climate Emergency.

The G7 Summit, under UK presidency, claims it will use this summit to “build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future.” Let’s hope there’s substance to their words.

Write to your MP and MSPs. Demand action. Ask your MP to back the CEE Bill.

There is still hope. The solutions are clear: cut emissions, halt deforestation, shift away from our cultural obsession with growth, fully embrace renewables, transform food production, educate everyone, and adopt and invest in other green technologies (my current favourite being mushrooms that can reportedly eat oil spills and plastics), at the same time addressing inequality. And understand we’re part of, not above, nature. In short: demonstrate responsibility and compassion.

We are staring the moment for change squarely in the face. Let’s make some noise.

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