2020 – A key year for climate action including within the assembly

Stevie Maginn is a Green Party Activist & Environmental Campaigner.

2019 was the year that the climate crisis finally became part of mainstream society thanks to the work of activists like Greta Thunberg and more locally, Youth Strike 4 Climate Belfast & Múscail.

2020 must be the year for Climate Action.

The science is there, the UN International Panel for Climate Change recognises that global carbon emissions MUST peak this year, if average temperatures are to remain within 1.5C of warming above pre-industrial levels by the turn of the century.

Make no mistake however, the Climate and Ecological Crisis is already here. We only have to look at the bushfires raging across Australia which have killed 20 people and up to half a billion animals as well as the extreme droughts being experienced in Zambia, where over 2 million people are on the brink of climate related famine. 

But average temperature rise, exceeding 1.5C, is the point where things go from being very bad to being catastrophic. At this point, hundreds of millions of people will become more exposed to climate related poverty, disproportionately affecting the global south.

At home, the impact of sea rises will lead to the frequent flooding of large parts of inner city North & East Belfast. None of us can escape from the impacts of Climate Breakdown, but it is the more socially and economically deprived communities which will bear the biggest brunt of the adverse impacts of global heating.

Climate breakdown is a human rights issue as much as it is an environmental issue. 

Consider then, that if we continue the present business as usual approach, experts have projected that we could be on track to see heating of 4C by 2100…

The good news is this: How much the planet warms is up to us.

We know what we need to do, and the technology now exists for us to be able to do it.

All we need now both globally and locally is the political will to decarbonise our economy.

By doing so, we will all have to change the way we live. But that doesn’t mean all sacrifice. Instead, ending our dependency on fossil fuels is an opportunity to build a fairer and more equal society. One with employment opportunities in green jobs, more liveable cities, less expensive energy, clean air and water and healthy children who can return to enjoying their childhood instead of taking to the streets to ensure their future, something which is bringing them so much anxiety and distress.

2019 was the year that the climate crisis finally became part of conversations in mainstream society.  Effectively all our local political parties have made efforts to green their credentials.    

I hope this means we can expect Climate Action to be a key focus in a restored NI assembly. We are running out of time…


Stevie Maginn is a Green Party Activist & Environmental Campaigner. He is a Trustee at Ulster Wildlife and facilitates the NI Youth Forum Environmental Committee.

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