"What did you do to prevent Climate Change?", my grandchildren will ask in the year 2070, floating past me on their hydro-powered hover boards. "Well", I will say, peering through my hologlasses, "Let me tell you about the year 2012".
I will tell them how, "back in my day", attitudes towards climate change were very different. People didn't realise that carbon emissions were having devastating effects on children all over the world. Hardly anyone knew about the tropical storm in the Philippines in 2011 which killed 1,257 people. No one was told that 175 million children would be affected by climate change every year, for the next ten years. They didn't know that burning fossil fuels would lead to increases in climate-sensitive infectious diseases, increases in air pollution-related illness, and more heat-related, potentially fatal, illness. The government had to be reminded that they needed to do something, and they needed to do something now.
I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that we did something about this. So the first thing I would like the government to do is to get more clued up on climate-change and the devastating effects that it is having, and to spread the word. Last night, 22nd November, at a Political Parties Question Time at the University of Nottingham, only one of the four Members of Parliament sitting on the panel voiced to the audience just how many millions of children were being affected by climate change. I am not saying that everyone needs to be an expert, but one MP at a question and answer session a couple of weeks ago was only able to give "there will be less fish to eat" as an example of the effects of climate change. I have a feeling that this will be laughable in 2070.
I was encouraged to go to events such as the Question Time, and to visit my local MP, Lilian Greenwood, when I became a Children's Champion for UNICEF UK. By taking on this role I agreed to help in the effort to call on the government to commit new money to the green climate fund. This is the second thing I would like the government to do. In 2009, governments (including the UK) agreed to contribute to the $100 billion needed each year by2020, to tackle climate-change. So far no progress has been made in producing this $100 billion.
As UNICEF's Speak Up For Children campaign highlights, there is no end to the progress that could be made if they made this commitment a reality. Something as simple as making food and water accessible to those affected by droughts would be more possible. Cyclone friendly schools could be built to ensure that every child was able to access education despite climate change.
It is not just adaptation to climate-change which needs to be addressed, however. Mitigation of carbon emissions is vital if we are to prevent, as far possible, future problems. So thirdly and finally, although there is so much more to say, I would like Ed Davey to take his promise, that carbon emissions will be reduced by 80% by 2050, seriously. The UK has been emitting carbon gases by the bucket load for years and we have a historic responsibility to put it right. If we don't make every effort to cut our emissions now, we will have our grandchildren to answer to, who will be living in a world destroyed by our laziness.
We, in the twentieth century western world, have got it pretty good. We jump in our cars and drive to work, school, our friends, the supermarket. We flick lights on and off and switch on our televisions. We log on and have access to a wealth of knowledge. We go to the ballot box to vote. But this did not happen by accident. The Emily Davisons and Tim Berners-Lees of previous generations made this world for us. They created the world that we live in today and we can't escape from the fact that their actions determined our lives, as our actions and the actions of the government will determine the lives of generations to come.
In 2012 we can ask the government to make commitments and changes and we can do justice to future generations who are counting on us.
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