Back in the mists of time I can remember writing an essay for my GCSE English about the environment. Its something that really stuck in my mind from the days of staring out of the window; the beginnings of a life-long interest.
This was the age of the Rio Earth summit and talk about de-forestation in the amazon and the hole in the ozone layer was the main focus of environmental stories in the media .
Alot has changed in the last 25 years. As the talks in Paris grind out an international agreement its worth remembering that efforts to put the environment at the centre of the global stage began in the 1970s – when the United Nations Environment Programme was set up in Stockholm.
This time round there seems to be alot of optimism. It seems that the penny is finally dropping. If we don’t act now to avoid hiting 2c of temperature rise that the future for our children isn’t great. Its also an opportunity to create an engine of growth: the low carbon (or zero carbon) economy will see lots of new opportunities to green the economies of the world. Having proper and robust adaptation plans will create jobs and importantly secure the future of vulnerable communities.
But rather than just adapting and hoping for the best we do need to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmopshere and the degradation of the natural environment. This is the stuff of life. Nature has suffered terribly in the last sixty years – a result of industrialisation and the green revolution of farming, where the value of land and the soil has come a poor second.
If communities, society and Governments come together and work in partnership we can turn things around. The recycling revolution of the last twenty years has shown that behaviour change is possible. But we do need an active state mentality to power some of the changes needed: investing in renewable energy technology, using economic levers to manage the natural environment and taxing bad econmic activities.
When my children do their GCSEs in the 2020s I hope that they would be able to write with optimism about he future of the planet for their generation.