To Brexit or not to Brexit? More than two years after the fateful referendum, the question is still on the lips of every soul in the United Kingdom (and beyond) and seems to be in a dead end. In an unsurprising result, the House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected the divorce papers negotiated by its Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU 27.
Since June 23, 2016, British and European perspectives have been shrouded in uncertainty. Not that the roadmap was very clear before that, but at least we had a sense of coordination and joint effort.
Despite all her efforts to strike a deal with the EU, May had to come back to the House of Commons with another plan within three days. This plan B, she announced, can only be a copy of plan A, because of the lack of existence of said plan B. In so many words: there is no Plan B for the Brexit, nor for the planet.
Among the very many treaties and norms that are on the negotiation table, more than a couple concern environmental practices and the continuity of sustainable incentives like the EU carbon trading scheme. The UK, who had been a notable advocate of a decarbonised economy, might decide to leave the diplomatic field and fall back on its precious oil and gas resources. Unless the Scots make a move of their own, which would reshuffle – again – the whole deck of options.
Beyond the very important questions surrounding the fate of UK nationals in the EU (and vice-versa) or the funding of the healthcare system or agricultural policy of this or that country, one transient question concerns all sides of all borders on this planet. What do we do with this climate change thing in the meantime?
The Climate Elephant in the Room
It is there like an elephant in the room (we use this expression while everyone remembers what an elephant is). Climate change, the problem(s) that concerns everybody is discreetly yet conspicuously swept under the rug and off the political agenda. Instead of doing what we should be doing, brainpower, media time and critical windows of opportunity are lost on sorting this sticky situation.
Meanwhile, to reassure worried environmentalists, the UK has updated its climate change strategy, rolled out a national clean air plan and introduced a new body of independent watchdogs to ensure that Britain does not fall short of its environmental standards on its way out of the Union. These guarantees have not cleared the air (no pun intended) on the country’s ecological intentions, as they painfully contrasted with last January’s decision to postpone a vote on fox hunting ban or the UK’s record-breaking summer heatwaves.
As we need more coherence and cooperation to prevent the worst effects of climate change, nations seem to be growing farther and farther apart. Old countries are challenged both by the dislocation of large political unions and a local yearning for more autonomy and a closer relation between citizens and their governing bodies.
Create a Culture of Climate Responsibility
Against such a divisive backdrop, the importance of group action becomes a lot clearer. It took 21 conferences to reach an almost-worldwide agreement on climate, 3 more to agree on how to keep other countries accountable. How many more until the Green Fund is, well, funded?
Supporting local climate action and innovation is demonstrating its usefulness in bringing solutions to the world. In the meantime, institutions seem unresponsive, or at least too slow to respond. Countries fear to lose their historical advance or on the contrary be prevented from bridging gaps.
People with a real vested interested in reality are left to act. These are individuals, citizens and organisations that are aware, capable and motivated to create the most effective actions against climate change. We can still prevent the worst of climate change. But we need to focus our research, our way of working and our finances.
Let’s aim to do something today, rather than in 10 years. Let’s start by changing our surrounding area or supporting the research of students in conservation or sustainability.
Plan A provides the platform to create, promote and gather fundings for such projects that create a fair and resilient world for everyone. We live at a time of great changes and yes, dangers. We have the power to define our societies and ways of life for the generations to come. This is no era for bystanders. It’s a moment for planetary heroes. “The fault, dear friend, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” As is our destiny.
What a time to be alive!