Climate change is at our door. Not in the future, not in the abstract, but in our flooded roads and railways, in our overburdened emergency services, and now in a whole village told it will be ‘decommissioned’ in thirty years’ time.
When I read the news that the UK will have its first climate refugees I wondered if this would serve as a loud enough alarm bell to those in charge, reminding them yet again that climate change is at our door.
There are 462 families living in Fairbourne in North Wales, a village so at risk of flooding that the council is saying the next generation won’t be allowed to live there, it just won’t be safe. Meanwhile, house prices continue to drop and morale in this close-knit community plummets.
The gap between climate chaos and day to day life has vanished for these residents. Yet the government still fails to act.
The situation in Fairbourne hasn’t happened overnight. As with so much of the devastating fallout of climate change, there have been opportunities time and time again for action that could have minimised the impact.
It’s been seven years since this village first started facing dangerous levels of flooding – seven years of government inaction despite a clear trajectory for the damage being done.
In communities around the world we’re seeing activity to try and negate the worst effects of climate change.
From volunteer tree planting on the Yorkshire moors to prevent flooding, to food-forests in Haiti to deliver food security, I find these projects inspiring. But in order for runaway climate change to be curbed, governments, including here in the UK, need to play their part.
The implementation of a Green New Deal, as proposed by the Green Party, to change the way our economy works, is what’s needed.
We need an entire change to the system so that environmental considerations and equality go hand in hand and are prioritised above all else.
Changes to the way we do things that will cut carbon emissions, boost nature and create good jobs at the same time. It can be done, the blueprints are there, the government just needs to follow them.
None of us wants to be displaced from our home, be it from flooding, fires, loss of food or loss of income. And whilst community projects deliver real benefits, we need systemic change.
That can’t be done without politicians - both at home and abroad - who treat the climate emergency as the human rights crisis that it is and subsequently are willing to take the urgent and proportionate action that’s needed to combat it.
Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party.