Fear and loathing on the referendum trail 7: Combating climate change

The biggest challenge facing the planet is runaway global warming. As the media distract us with trivia, the globe spins onward towards its tipping point, propelled by our addiction to fossil fuels and stubborn refusal to countenance the possibility of changing our way of life to prevent it. The Paris agreement of last year, when governments agreed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees but declined to provide many specific examples of how exactly they would do it, is already dead in the water.

Temperatures this year have soared to record levels. At this rate the 1.5 degree limit will be reached and passed within a year or two. Meanwhile politicians prevaricate, caught in the vice-like grip of their allegiance to neoliberalism and subservience to corporate interests. The super-rich have to maintain their planet-destroying lifestyles, the fossil fuels have to be exploited, profits have to be made.

Which outcome, Brexit or Bremain, is most likely to confront the urgent need for environmental regulation and de-carbonisation of the economy? This is clearly another transnational issue and can only be solved on a transnational scale. Again, we’re back to trust.

The leading ranks of Brexiters are dominated by those in denial about man-made climate change, people like the two Nigels, Lawson and Farage. Lawson, who curiously prefers to live in France, set up his own Global Warming Policy Foundation to oppose climate change mitigation policies. Meanwhile, Farage admits to not having a clue about the causes of dangerous climate change. Ukip policy in last year’s election included a plan to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change and end ‘burdensome green levies’.

Does this man understand the issue of climate change and global warming?
Does this man understand the issue of climate change and global warming?

Another leading Brexiter, our own PR lobbyist, MP and ‘farmer’, George Eustice, wants to scrap the EU’s birds and habitats directives and re-direct the ‘green dividend’ to farmers. Scrapping environmental protections across the board is likely to trigger an even more frenzied developmental free-for-all on sites currently shielded by EU designations.

With most environmentalists lining up behind Bremain, on the climate change crisis criterion alone the decision looks pretty clear cut. Vote Remain. Putting the Brexiters in charge of the environment seems like another case of John Major’s python in charge of a pet hamster, except that the python may well succumb to the current wave of global mass species extinction before the hamster.

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