Where did the green bit go?

Posted on by melanie

Melanie Thompson of Get Sust! has been out on the doorsteps of middle England, but still can’t find the Green Bit.

Have you been waiting? I have. But the wait is over and now it’s too late. A massive opportunity has been missed.

What was I waiting for? For the “green bit” to get discussed in the UK General Election campaign.

The TV debates came and went; the media are in a daily froth about some policy point or other. But green issues? Barely a column inch has been “wasted”. And that’s even with a much higher profile for the Green Party’s leader.

Over the past six months, as the election date grew nearer, the faint green tinge that could sometimes be glimpsed in the background of political discussions has been all but erased. It’s been back to the basics of national self-interest and bickering about personalities and presentations styles. No wonder many of the people I’ve spoken to on the doorstep in recent weeks have said “a plague on all their houses”.

Not that these “undecideds” and “can’t be bothereds” were particularly concerned about environmental issues. The nearest I’ve come to that was someone (predictably) complaining about having to separate their recycling from their ordinary household waste.

Admittedly, I’ve only done a few days of campaigning; but if my experience is anything to go by (and bearing in mind I helped in an area with a fairly young and energetic demographic) “green issues” and “climate change” have pretty much dropped from most people’s radar.

Meanwhile, officials working for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are busily preparing for the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), which will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France.

It seems hard to believe that it is the 21st meeting since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, where the UK was represented by the then Prime Minister, John Major. Some of the young people I’ve been out campaigning with in the past month weren’t even born then!

COP21 will be the largest diplomatic event ever hosted by France and one of the largest climate conferences ever organized, with some 40,000 participants (country delegates, observers and campaigners) expected.

After two decades of action – but insufficient action – the stakes are now extremely high. The aim of COP21 is to create a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable the world to combat climate change. It tells you a great deal about previous efforts and COPs, that the focus for COP21 will mainly be on mitigation and adaptation – because the pace of climate change has not slowed sufficiently and some of its consequences are now deemed unavoidable.

It would have been nice if, just once or twice, our political leaders in the UK had given this subject a higher profile in the election campaign. So much for the pledge, five years ago, that the Coalition would be the greenest government ever. To which I am tempted to add as an aside “not so much green, as cabbage-looking”.

So if you are STILL undecided, as so many people are, here’s an easy way to make up your mind in tomorrow’s poll: just remember your A B C. “Anyone But C––”.

[This post is the opinion of Melanie Thompson, owner of Get Sust! and has not been published elsewhere.]

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