Is this really the time to tackle climate change?

Yesterday I was on BBC local radio talking about how we need to build back better after Covid-19.

You can listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08gk11m (3hrs:8min)

or if reading is your thing please see transcript below.

Louis Stephen on BBC Hereford and Worcester 25/06/2020

Toni McDonald – What do you make of the protests happening today? Do you think they’re necessary at the moment?

Louis Stephen – I think they are. I think it’s always good to keep this issue high up on the agenda. I think it’s something that needs to be central to everything that we’re doing at the moment, particularly as we go out of the coronavirus pandemic, we shouldn’t go back to the way we were. The phrase we’re using is ‘we need to Build Back Better’.

TM – But isn’t just sorting out that virus something we should be concentrating on, and putting more of our energies into that, and put climate change to one side for a minute because we’ve got this more immediate crisis to hand?

LS – No, we can do both things at the same time. So if you look at things like for example encouraging more walking and cycling and things like that, they will help to reduce our climate emissions, but it will also help to us to do greater social distancing. What we don’t want to see is a whole lot of people who would normally use public transport getting in their cars and creating a whole lot of congestion in the city: that is really bad for business. What we’d love to see is actually far more investment in walking and cycling and so on, and that’s the sort of thing we’re looking at to try to make sure we actually improve things from where we were before the coronavirus pandemic.

TM – But at the moment people still don’t feel that they want to take public transport. The first thing that they’re going to want to do is get in their car if they haven’t got a bike; that’s just what they’re going to do.

LS – Exactly, and that’s what we need to try to avoid. We need to make sure that we do give people other options, and another option is to do more walking and cycling where possible. At the moment, many people will say that the roads are unsafe to cycle on, and there are other parts of the country, not necessarily in Worcestershire where they’ve really taken this to heart, and they’ve used central government’s money to bring in pop-up cycle lanes, extending pavements, allowing the cafes and restaurants to go over some more of the roads, and actually try to do something about the traffic. I mean obviously climate change isn’t all about transport; there’s lots of other things that we can do. The economy is going to be massively hit after this pandemic, and there are going to be a lot of people suffering from a lack of income, lack of jobs and so on. What we can do is we can actually invest money into things that are actually going to help us with tackling climate change. Things like doubling the amount of trees that we have in this country, insulating the homes that we have in this country, investing in a whole series of infrastructure things that will create jobs at the same time as reducing carbon. And those are the sort of things that we can do that, actually let’s not build back to the way we were – we say let’s build back better and put the investment in to make sure we’ve got a good, strong economy. And that money that we invest, instead of just frippery, let’s put really good investment in there that will actually mean that we’re set for the coming generations.

TM – So this means that the government really needs to think more about this now?

LS – They do, and unfortunately what tends to happen is that often climate change is put on a back burner, “We’ll do it later”, but no, what we really need to do is to weave it into our everyday lives into all the decision we make, and actually make sure that we invest properly. And, you know, there is a limit to what you as an individual can do, and what we need is action from the government. What tends to happen is the government tends to get interested in this sort of stuff when it comes to election time, it talks the talk, and then afterwards, things start to slip away and so on. So I really think that we need to change the way we do things and make sure that we actually put the environment front and centre in everything we do.

END

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