Dear Cllr Carey
We read with interest your views on Manston and the lorry parks in relation to the climate emergency in a piece in Kent Online this week. We are quite aware of KCC’s view that there is no need for carbon neutrality until 2050 and we wanted to urge you to reconsider this view.
The science is becoming increasingly clear that we have almost no time left to avert the climate crisis or to prevent climate tipping points where feedback loops drive climate change further and faster. The UN IPCC warned the world in 2018 that there were just twelve year left to prevent catastrophic climate change and that the current Paris Agreement trajectory was insufficient to limit global heating to 1.5C. The IPCC report stated that “Avoiding overshoot and reliance on future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) can only be achieved if global CO2 emissions start to decline well before 2030”.
While the UK continues to argue that territorial based CO2 emissions have fallen over the past 30 years, the real story is one of outsourcing of emissions. The total carbon footprint based on consumption which includes carbon emitted in the production of goods produced abroad and consumed in the UK shows that our footprint is roughly the same as it was in 1990, i.e. there has been no progress.
In your role as Cabinet Member for the Environment we hope that you will be focused on the scientific evidence combined with the needs of the environment, and that you will put these considerations ahead of other needs such as economy. There is, after all, no economy on a dead planet.
Also, in terms of humanity 1.5C is considered the maximum temperature rise for a safe future for our children and descendants. Anything beyond this is likely to significantly reduce the chance of humanities survival, as described in recent studies.
Transport accounts for 34% of the UK’s carbon emissions, a figure which excludes international flights and shipping. This is a significant and relatively well understood area to tackle, solutions to which would also provide significant benefits to air quality.
Given the magnitude and likelihood of the risk, it therefore seems wrong to delay reductions in emissions and even worse to consider measures that would increase emissions, such as increasing the number of flights to and from Kent.
We therefore urge you to reconsider your position on carbon emissions and instead consider what steps might be taken to rapidly and drastically reduce emissions across Kent in order to contribute positively to the fight to prevent catastrophic climate change that will devastate the lives of our children.
Stuart Jeffery and Mandy Rossi
Co-Chairs of Kent Greens.