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WHY CLIMATE COMPASSION SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF POLITICS

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Deep into election season and we’ve all been inundated with messages from politicians of every persuasion trying to woo our vote. Big issues include the cost of living, health, and the economy. According to recent data, the environment and climate change are in the top five deciding issues influencing our voting decisions. 

From here on in, future elections are likely to see climate issues having a much greater impact on our daily lives.

Which is why politicians of all parties should put climate compassion at the forefront of their agendas. To make peace with nature, do right by fellow creatures, and end global heating. 

Time is running out. 

Firefighters and volunteers work to extinguish a fire in village of Kamari in Santorini island, Greece | Credit: Alexandros Michailidis

Red lights flashing

Only last month, former chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, Sir David King, warned that humanity’s very survival is at stake. Now chair of the global Climate Crisis Advisory Group, he called for concerted focus on reducing climate emissions, building resilience, repairing ecosystems, and removing greenhouse gases.

Similarly, an open letter from more than 400 scientists has called on all parties to commit to an “ambitious” programme of climate policies.

Meanwhile, in New York, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, marked World Environment Day with a blistering speech on what he called “climate crunch time”. Our battle to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees of heating – considered the ‘safe’ upper limit – is hanging by a thread. It will be won or lost over the next five years. 

Climate chaos is just around the corner. And who will be hardest hit? The poorest, most vulnerable in society. Destroying lives, hitting economies, and harming our health. 

Breaking boundaries

Climate change is but one of what scientists call the ‘planetary boundaries’ now pushed to the brink – shattering global temperature records, accelerating species loss, and increasing pollution. 

Industrial animal agriculture and increasing meat consumption are major reasons why we are pushing planetary boundaries to such dangerous degrees. Converting wildlands into fields to feed caged or confined animals or ploughing up pastures and moving cattle deeper into forests. Taking a huge toll on the world’s wildlife and our climate. 

The way we produce and consume food is a major contributor to climate change. Animal agriculture alone produces more climate-heating emissions than the entire transport sector.  

Better futures

The good news is that we have the means to turn things around. We just need the political will to make it happen. We have our forests, our wetlands and oceans to absorb carbon and provide life-giving opportunities for nature. 

Renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels are burgeoning, providing cleaner air, decent jobs, and better energy security. Renewables already make up almost a third of the world’s electricity supply.

In the same way, we can transform food systems, supporting nature-friendly, regenerative farming practices. We can embrace alternative proteins and reduce overconsumption of meat. We can get behind higher welfare practices that allow farmed animals to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.

We have the means to create a liveable future through climate compassion. We just need to embrace the natural world around us. Protect it. Let it live. So that we can too. 

Note: This is a version of an article that was originally published in The Scotsman on Friday 29th June 2024

Main Image Credit: Ⓒ istock.com/dunedem

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