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UK Politicians Failing to Act on Climate Change, Says Top Adviser

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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the human race. It will require collective international action to beat, but becomes insurmountable if leaders don’t follow through on previous promises — and the world’s poorest will inevitably be hit hardest. Take action with us on the consequences of climate change here.

Lord Deben knows a thing or two about climate change.

He’s the British government’s official climate change adviser — and has provided his expertise on the issue for decades.

Now he’s called out the government, precisely because he doesn’t think they’re taking the threats posed by climate change seriously enough.

Take Action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

Lord Deben is the chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent body set up to prepare the British government for increases in global temperatures.

In 1993, he was appointed secretary of state for the environment under former prime minister John Major — and was an important player as the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008, which led to founding of the CCC.

He’s also a trustee at the Blue Marine Foundation, an ocean conservation charity.

Now, Lord Deben has hit out at a lack of urgency shown by UK politicians.

“The thing that I want to bring home to policymakers is that this is increasingly urgent and that these things will be laid at your door if you don’t recognise that and act accordingly,” he said. “With the Black Death, where one in three of the population died, we did not know how it happened, how it spread, so we were not responsible.”

“With climate change we do know and so we are responsible,” he continued. “So it is no good saying, ‘Oh well, it will all work out one way or another’. We are responsible, and if we don’t take on that responsibility we are shoving it on to our children — and no parent should do that in any circumstances.”

The Black Death killed 50 million people in the 14th century — over half the entire population of Europe. So, basically, Lord Deben wants you to know that climate change is a really big deal.

According to the Guardian, Lord Deben said that future generations will judge politicians poorly unless there’s action right now.

“Anybody who has been reading the newspapers will know there is a serious issue about Arctic ice,” he said. “The current hot period we are experiencing in Britain at the moment does remind us that we have had most of the hottest years we have had in the past 10 to 15 years.”

Lord Deben refers to the heatwave that’s engulfed Britain this summer, breaking temperature records and shortening odds on it being the longest period of sustained heat since the infamous drought in 1976.

He also highlighted rising sea levels and the permafrost — frozen ground that’s thawing faster than ever —  as evidence that the problem requires immediate attention.

Read More: 4 Things the UK Government Must Do in 'Crucial' Year for Hitting Climate Targets

The CCC published a report on June 28 that said the UK was not on track to meet climate change targets. While emissions have dropped 43% since the 1990s, it states that reductions have stalled in the last five years — and there’s been a “marked failure” to decarbonise sectors like transport and agriculture.

“Although the UK seeks to lead the world in tackling climate change, the fact is that we’re off track to meet our own emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s,” Lord Deben said on the report.

The report advised the government to prioritise low-cost solutions like wind power, woodland, and insulation, commit to effective regulation, and, above all, act swiftly.

British investment in green energy fell by 56% last year — a drop in funding worse than any other country on the planet. Worldwide, renewable energy investment is increasing as costs reach their lowest price ever. But in the UK, progress has considerably slowed.

“This is extremely urgent because these things are now happening much more often and – in aggregate – it is clearly because of climate change,” Lord Deben said.