By Nick Gregory, Teacher of History & Politics
On Monday 12 December, the Bedales community will once again go to the polls to have their say in the latest Block 3 Projects referendum. This term, the issue on the (digital) ballot paper is climate change, with voters being asked the question: Should the UK government make a legally-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2032?
Representatives from both campaigns will be pitching to the voters at whole school assembly in the Quad at 5.30pm on Monday. Voting will open immediately afterwards, from 6pm on Monday and will remain open until 2pm on Tuesday 13 December.
Taking place exactly three years to the day since the last UK General Election, the vote comes at a particularly important and relevant time – both domestically and globally – in the context of this debate. Just this week, the UK government approved plans for the UK’s first new coal mine for 30 years. Internationally, last month saw the much-hyped COP27 summit take place in Egypt, with governments from across the world keen to show they are making progress on tackling Climate Change; however, COP27 convened against the backdrop of a new global poll that found that concern about climate change is actually shrinking, with fewer than half of those questioned believing it poses a ‘very serious threat’. Here in the UK, however, voters seem to want more action on the environment from their government, with 63% of those surveyed in November saying that the government is not doing enough to tackle climate change.
Our two campaign teams have been working hard – allocating campaign jobs, researching their arguments, and planning their strategy to win over the voters. We challenged representatives from each campaign to put forward their argument to the Saturday Bulletin readers in less than 300 words!
The ‘No to 32’ campaign
By Flora Meyrick, Block 3
The ‘No to 32’ campaign believes that the date specified in the referendum question itself is too restrictive.
Given that much of our economy relies heavily on non-electric vehicles and carbon exports, if we truly wish to become net-zero we should set a more realistic date that is actually achievable, such as 2050, rather than setting – and missing – yet another deadline that we cannot possibly hope to reach.
The UK government has already made a legal commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Our priority should be ensuring that this existing target is actually met, rather than setting a new one that will not be.
If we wish to succeed in finding a way to reach net-zero, we also need to find better alternatives to provide energy for our nation. For many, the answer is nuclear; however, nuclear radiation can cause lung cancer as people may inhale radiation particles. We believe that the future lies in hydropower.
Hydropower is the cheapest form of renewable energy, and the most obvious choice for an island nation. The government should invest heavily in making progress in this area in order to reach its 2050 target.
Clearly, 2032 – now just a decade away – is too soon to get our country to net-zero in any kind of practical or affordable way. However, finding a renewable source to slowly make the switch from carbon to hydropower by 2050 is the sensible, affordable and achievable route to making the UK net-zero.
Vote ‘No to 32’ to help our country.
The ‘Zero Now’ campaign
By Emily Cullen and Lily Maughan, Block 3
The ‘Zero-Now’ campaign believes that unless we start reducing greenhouse emissions immediately, then climate change – with all its damaging effects – will be irreversible. The UK government should make a legally-binding commitment to become a net-zero nation by 2032. The earlier we start, the more time we have left.
10 years may seem too soon, but the UK needs to set an example. It was the first country in the world to create a legally-binding national commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions via the Climate Change Act of 2008. This gives us a powerful voice and influence with the rest of the world. A reduction in greenhouse gases simply must happen very soon, and a legally-binding agreement commits both government and businesses to this aim, which makes progress much more likely.
Some key policies to reach this target include:
- Funding more electric vehicle charging stations, and converting them to be sustainably powered (e.g. solar panelled)
- Identifying, prioritising and adapting government investments in infrastructure and innovating technology to address climate change risks effectively
- Assist businesses and large emitters in transitioning to being carbon neutral
- Financial incentives for improved water and wastewater management
- Construction of new sustainable power stations around the UK, made by carbon neutral companies
These are some of the many ways we can reach net-zero by 2032. Achieving net-zero urgently is vital, as it’s the best way we can tackle climate change and reduce global warming. What we do in the next decade to limit emissions will be critical to our future, and currently our target of 2050 is too far off. If we want future generations to thrive then we must act now.
Do it now; we must be Zero-Now.