I signed this letter yesterday even though I've given up on the idea of keeping global heating down to +1.5 degrees, and I usually find TV debates pretty useless forums for getting anywhere. They are great for posturing though. I'm also not convinced that party leaders are the best folk to involve. Better, perhaps, to have a politician there who knows something about the topic. Still, ...
Public concern about the climate crisis has never been as high as it is now. The majority of people in the UK have said that climate will influence the way they cast their vote in the next election. Therefore, we must make the election one that focuses on, and is defined by plans for climate action in the UK. The IPCC, the UN’s climate change advisory body, has concluded that we have just a decade to halve global carbon emissions to stay below the 1.5°C target. Hence, this will be the vote that decides whether Britain takes a leading role in helping to resolve this emergency.
The youth climate movement, alongside Possible and a coalition including sectoral organisations, trade unions and environmental NGOs, is calling for a national televised election debate on climate and nature. We, the undersigned scientists and academics, support this call wholeheartedly. As scientists, we confirm that the youth movement’s concerns are well-founded and rest on highly robust scientific evidence. Hence, we join their call for a political party leaders’ debate on climate and nature where candidates will outline and discuss their parties’ plans to tackle the climate and ecological crises.
In line with the IPCC’s conclusions, global society needs to urgently reduce the emissions of the main climate pollutants - especially carbon dioxide and other key greenhouse gases - and reduce them to (net) zero at the latest between 2040 and 2050. Industrialised countries like the UK should take a leading role in this transition due to our prosperity and historical responsibility for the problem. The more rapidly we cut fossil fuel use and other sources of climate pollution, the more likely our chances of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, thereby averting the worst effects of climate disruption. The British public has a right to hear how - or indeed whether - our politicians intend to do this.
Join us in our call for a leaders climate and nature debate now.
As scientists and academic experts in other fields, we strongly support the youth climate movement’s demand for rapid and ambitious action, and consider it our social responsibility to point out the consequences of inadequate action.
A national, televised leaders climate and nature debate in which the candidates must lay out their plans to act in a timely manner with sufficient ambition is the only way to ensure this crucial issue is at the top of the political agenda and to give UK citizens the ability to judge which parties and candidates are best able to pursue this ambition.
This climate emergency must be fought at the ballot box, this must be a climate election.