How the UK government can tackle climate breakdown Our 6 point Climate Action Plan

One of the most common online searches on the climate is "how do we stop climate change?"

There’s plenty of info out there on what we as individuals can do – reduce our meat and dairy intake, avoid single-use plastic, change to a green energy supplier – and many of us are already doing what we can. And on a larger scale, community groups and local government can take meaningful action on climate breakdown (which is why we’re campaigning across the UK for councils to adopt ambitious Climate Action Plans). 

But it’s the UK government that has the most power, money and resource to bring about the transformational change that will end the climate emergency. Only, they’re not doing enough… 

So, if you remember one thing from today, let it be this plan.

It contains radical yet realistic solutions the UK government must adopt to protect the planet. And we want to make it as simple (and as unavoidable!) as possible for your MP to back this plan. 

So read it. Discuss it. And make sure it ends up on your MP’s desk.

Our vision for the future

You may have heard the government announce their intention to go “net zero” by 2050. Going net zero means removing as many emissions as we produce, which is vital if we’re to get a grip on climate breakdown. That means that as well as polluting less and holding big fossil fuel companies to account, we need to re-think how we use our land and natural resources.

It’s vital that the UK gets to net zero a lot sooner than 2050 – we’re already seeing the catastrophic effects of climate breakdown through floods and droughts. There’s just a short window of opportunity left to avoid irreversible damage, which is why all our representatives (no matter what their political persuasion) need to get behind this Climate Action Plan. 

In the plan you’ll find six tangible solutions that MPs can back to protect our planet. Behind each solution is a people-first approach, whereby all the measures to cut emissions (such as cheap, green public transport) are implemented in a way that doesn’t price people out of living greener, more sustainable lives.

SIX SOLUTIONS the government must commit to in 2020.

1. Transport

First and foremost, the UK government must halt any expansion to airports and introduce a frequent flyer levy (10% of the most frequent flyers took more than half of flights abroad in 2018).

They must also phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans within the decade and help motorists switch rapidly to electric vehicles.

Public transport needs to become the go-to way of getting about across all UK regions. For that to happen, government need to roll out free bus travel for under 30s and invest in brilliant and cheap public transport options, while making it easier for people to cycle and walk wherever possible.

If they do all of that, they’ll deliver the lion’s share of emission cuts needed in the transport sector (which is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK).

These positive measures will reduce traffic noise and drastically improve air quality – a major benefit to children and older people, who are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution.

2. Power

Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas anymore. As for fracking, there is currently a moratorium in place and we demand a permanent ban once and for all – it’s not a clean energy source.

Government must pull out all the stops (through finance and regulation) to double the speed of renewable energy rollout and achieve 100% clean energy from the wind, sun and sea.

Instead of importing dirty energy, the UK should be powered by a home-grown renewables sector, providing jobs and clean energy at affordable prices for homes, heating, transport and industry.

3. Buildings and homes

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had eco-friendly well insulated homes, be they rented or owned?

For that to happen (and carbon emissions to be cut), government should fund a massive insulation scheme and shift to homes heated mainly by electricity, provided by the UK’s vast renewable energy resources (see above).

A scheme of this sort would put an end to fuel poverty, and the misery of cold, expensive-to-heat homes, reducing avoidable illnesses – particularly among older people and the more vulnerable – in winter months.

4. Trees and food

Government needs to put funding in place to double tree cover (which removes planet-wrecking emissions from the air around us) and incentivise nature-friendly farming. They’ll also need to introduce policy support for sustainable diets and reducing food waste to enable this shift.

Intensive farming is destroying insect populations – including our precious bees. Without them our food production, natural pest control and soil health would all collapse.

Through doubling the size of the UK’s forests and transforming farming to provide us with the healthy (low meat and dairy) diets we need, we also create much needed space for nature and wildlife to flourish.

5. Consumption

Our current system encourages us to waste food and rely on single-use plastics or short-lived products (such as gadgets and clothes), a lot of which end up in landfill, incinerators, or in our seas and waterways.

 We need to redesign products and reshape how the economy works so that we extract, use and consume much less of the Earth’s resources. And government leadership is key to making that happen.

 By using less, and reusing, sharing and repairing what we do use, we’ll reduce climate-wrecking emissions. We'll also stop plastic pollution and make the world a healthier place for people and nature.

6. International justice

Poorer countries suffer disproportionately when it comes to the effects of climate breakdown – such as droughts and floods – and yet often they have contributed the least to global carbon emissions.

On the other hand, the UK has pumped out loads of climate-wrecking emissions (embarrassingly we’re in the top 10 of the worst global emitters of all time) . We also buy in lots of products that cause greenhouse gas emissions, but because they are made outside the UK we don’t take responsibility for them.

Worst of all, the UK is effectively funding the climate crisis... In the last 10 years, billions of pounds of tax-payers money have been spent on supporting coal, oil and gas projects in other countries. Instead of funding fossil fuel projects overseas, the UK government must pay its fair share to support more vulnerable countries dealing with the impacts of climate breakdown.

What you can do

We need MPs to put the future of the planet first – by publicly supporting these 6 solutions and making sure the climate emergency is front of mind when making decisions. But experience tells us that if we don’t put climate at the top of the agenda, our politicians won’t either.

And that’s where you come in.

Communities can achieve historic results when they work together on a common goal – just look at what’s happened in the anti-fracking movement. Right now, people just like you are forming Climate Action groups and lobbying their local representatives – including their MPs – to adopt action plans to tackle climate breakdown. So why not join (or start) a Climate Action group near you, and play your part in putting climate at the top of the political agenda.

Contact your MP. The political world can change in an instant, but no matter who represents your local area (or what party they belong to) make sure they’re in no doubt of the need to adopt this plan. Tweet them, email them, or if you feel like making a real impression, find out when their surgery hours are and book an appointment.

And finally, sign our petition calling on MPs to back this national Climate Action Plan.