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Government must be placed on a ‘war footing’ to tackle climate change threat

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The UK government must be placed on a “war footing” to tackle the various threats posed by climate change, a new commission has said.

UK-based think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has today unveiled a new Environmental Justice Commission which is to seek a plan to deliver a faster transition to a green economy.

Co-chaired by former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was an instrumental figure in the introduction of the Climate Change Act in 2008, the new commission has secured cross-party backing and assembled a membership of 16 leading environmental figures and politicians, with more to be added in the coming weeks.

Chief among the commission’s wants is for all of government’s resources to be dedicated towards the delivery of a Green New Deal for the UK, echoing calls similar to those in the US political sphere that have been advanced by Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Miliband is joined on the commission by fellow co-chairs Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and ex-Conservative MP Laura Sandys, who both stressed the urgency for government to tackle climate change.

The commission itself is to propose an “ambitious and rigorous” set of reforms, focusing on how the UK can deliver its contribution towards cutting emissions practically, transform and transition the entire economy towards a greener footing, and the UK’s international responsibilities in tackling climate crises.

Speaking on the launch of the commission, Miliband was forthright that the world faced a climate emergency.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our economic and social wellbeing, and to our national security. Politics needs to be on a war footing to deal with this enemy but too often it sends the message that business as usual will do.

“We need a revolution in political leadership; the problem we face is not just climate denial but climate appeasement. This commission brings together people from all walks of life, generations and political parties to bring about the solutions we need.

“It is time to put economic and social justice at the heart of the environmental cause. Our work will show how we should deploy all the resources of government to deliver a Green New Deal for the UK, putting our country to work on tackling this threat,” he said.

Sandys added that while some in the UK had faced disruption caused by environmental protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion in recent weeks, that disruption was “nothing in comparison to the social, economic and national disruption, upheaval and change to our way of life that we will face if we don’t take transformative action to address the climate emergency now.”

The launch of the commission comes at a pivotal time for the UK’s green movement. Extinction Rebellion’s protests and the launch of a David Attenborough-led documentary exploring climate change on Netflix have thrust the topic into the forefront of public consciousness and later this week the Committee on Climate Change will publish its recommendations for a net zero emissions economy target.

That target will broach the entire economy, exploring what will need to happen in the fields of low carbon power generation, transport and agriculture if the UK is to achieve such a goal.

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