James Heappey Weekly Column

School Climate Strike inspiration Greta Thunberg visited Parliament this week to share her views on climate change with MPs. Her visit coincided with the Extinction Rebellion protests around London and comes hot on the heels of a series of strikes by school children over climate change. The effect of all of this on our political agenda has been stark - on the first day back after the Easter recess, the House of Commons has had two separate debates on climate change. 

As someone who talks about decarbonising and arresting climate change all the time, it's very welcome to see it now getting the profile it should. The impact of climate change is profound - the huge costs for our economy are by far the least significant. The impact on food production around the world, the rising sea levels, the increased occurrence of extreme weather events and the irreversible damage to our environment should worry us much more. 

Ms Thunberg has said that she wants to raise awareness but as policy makers we must respond with some answers. Government must lead in the mission to decarbonise not just at home but through the UN, G7 and G20 to ensure that all countries around the world are acting with similar urgency. Decarbonising heat and transport should be our priorities at home as these sectors lag behind electricity generation which has switched to more sustainable methods rapidly over the last few years. 

Some interesting policy announcements have already been made, not least in the Spring Statement where the Chancellor unveiled some good measures around future heating systems. However decarbonising is not a spectator sport and the Government cannot do it all. So I'll conclude by encouraging you to think about what steps you could take to reduce your carbon footprint. Government and industry must do the heavy lifting but, cumulatively, individual changes will make a huge difference too.