If you want to fight climate change, by all means start by going vegan, giving up flying, switching to a renewable energy supplier and swearing off fast fashion. But don't stop there. If you really want to make a difference, the systems underpinning those industries need to change.
Here are five concrete policy proposals worth supporting, some more radical than others, but all designed to bring about a measure of systemic change.
Attach Environmental Strings to Airline Bailouts
Since March, the government has paid out nearly £1 billion to Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet and IAG (the owner of British Airways) to keep them afloat through the coronavirus crisis. Campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal is calling for stringent decarbonisation targets to be attached to these taxpayer-funded bailouts, while ensuring that airline jobs are protected.
Find out more at labourgnd.uk.
The UK government recently approved the construction of a new gas-fired plant in Yorkshire. Activists, led by the Good Law Society and Guardian journalist George Monbiot, are currently suing them in a bid to force a legal ban on such developments, arguing that they negate our obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Find out more at crowdjustice.com.
Pass a Local Electricity Bill
The development of small-scale renewable energy projects is currently hindered in the UK by the fact that they can't sell electricity directly to their local communities. The Local Electricity Bill drafted by the non-profit Power for People aims to remove the legal and financial obstacles, breaking the stranglehold of the Big Six UK energy suppliers and hastening the country's transition to renewables. It already has the support of 151 MPs.
Find out more at powerforpeople.org.uk.
Adopt the Recommendations of the 'Fixing Fashion' Report
Last year, Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee, led by the now-former Labour MP Mary Creagh, published a series of recommendations designed to make the fashion industry take responsibility for its footprint. Measures included the reasonable-sounding "Extended Producer Responsibility scheme", which aimed "to reduce textile waste with a one penny charge per garment on producers". Yet that, along with every single one of the report's other recommendations, has been rejected for the time being.
Make Radical Changes to Agricultural Subsidies
A recent study in the scientific journal Nature found that although "around 85 percent of the UK’s total land footprint is associated with meat and dairy production [...] meat and dairy only provide 32 percent of the total calories consumed". Yet livestock farming is heavily subsidised in the UK. Crops are far more efficient in terms of land use, and could free up large tracts of land for reforestation and rewilding. The New Economics Foundation, on behalf of the Vegan Society, have drafted proposals for how a just transition away from animal agriculture might be handled.
Find out more at vegansociety.com.