My View: Jonathan Harris

CA-WN gives a Councillor the space to speak about climate action

My View: Jonathan Harris

As the Secretary General of the UN said when presenting the grave picture for the future of this planet - ‘it’s now or never’ to take action.

Five of the worst offending greenhouse gas emitting countries are China, USA, India, Russia and Japan. The UK is 16th on this list (181 countries)*. Much of the manufacturing that creates large emissions is no longer here within the UK, but we still import and consume goods from around the globe. In effect we have ‘off-shored’ carbon production whilst we still reap the benefits of consumption.

The climate emergency is a global problem and to reduce the effects of warming we all need

to make changes. Attitudes that reflect ‘it’s their problem not mine’ will only compound the problems we face. Complexity science suggests ‘small input, large outcome’ and I keep this in mind as I think of actions I can take. As the Dalai Lama says, ‘if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito!’

The reality is we all will be impacted; not in the same immediate way as those in the most vulnerable zones who are already experiencing the threat of flooding, land-loss, wildfires, extreme temperatures that impact food production and life itself right now, but we will be affected. We will also be impacted as food production becomes at risk and populations are forced to migrate.

West Northants Council has finally committed to become net zero carbon by 2030 in regard to its own and its associated emissions. Its pledge is to make all of West Northants net zero by 2045. I am pleased to be part of the oversight group working on this challenge but it won’t be easy and it will come at a cost.

Technology changes will give us some solutions - however, they will be comparatively slow to arrive and not enough on their own. We need behaviour changes - and these won’t be easy or comfortable. We all can impact our own carbon footprints: home, travel, food consumption and ‘stuff’ consumption. We must make changes that will benefit our planet. My immediate actions have included moving to an electric vehicle and making the conscious decisions to fly less and buy less ‘stuff’. My wife has been vegetarian since 1984, so whilst I am not a vegetarian, my meat consumption is ‘light’ and she insists I have ‘happy meat’ that is locally sourced!

It is less than a lifetime to 2100 - a child born today will be 78 at the turn of the century. I believe we have a responsibility to make sure we are leaving this planet in a better state than we found it.

*CAIT Country Greenhouse Gas emissions data (1990-2016)