At his public meeting last month, Damian Hinds MP referred to the news from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) that global warming could breach 1.5ºC in the next few years.

He then said this will only be a problem if it goes on for 20 years – in contrast to the WMO report which talks about this leading us into “uncharted territory” for the climate, with the possibility of tipping points being triggered which may lead to much faster heating. 

Mr Hinds did say this is a big warning as we will be passing the planet on to our children. Yet when asked about bringing forward our net zero target from 2050 to 2040, he declared that would not be achievable. 

I would like to contrast his view with that of Christina Figueres, one of the driving forces behind the Paris agreement of 2015.

In her book The Future We Choose she said “it is not enough to do everything we can, we must do everything it takes to tackle global warming” – and then goes on to provide a step-by-step guide for how to do just that.

We in ACAN (Alton Climate Action Network) have been working with young people for a couple of years now. We commissioned a professional survey to assess their understanding and feelings about the climate crisis. The word cloud below shows the results.

It was clear they understand a great deal more than most people realise and it is very definitely affecting their mental health, which is no surprise when you listen to what they have to say.

Alton Climate Action Network has been working with young people for several years – including setting up its own Young ACAN group
Alton Climate Action Network has been working with young people for several years – including setting up its own Young ACAN group (ACAN)

Lillie Ewin, speaking at the East Hants COP26 event in 2022, said: “I have almost no power. I cannot vote, I cannot become a councillor or a member of parliament – in fact, I am almost completely reliant on you, the policy makers and voters, to do what is best for me. 

“To know I am going to die, potentially decades before my time, and to be able to do nothing about it, is terrifying and it is because of this… I demand you push yourselves harder… do the things you know need to be done but have been putting off because you believe them to be too difficult or too harsh, make use of whatever power you have for the ones that haven’t got any at all.”

What little power our young people did have, for instance, to stand up with a banner, shout and protest, have been curtailed by the recent Public Order Bill which led to pre-emptive arrests prior to the coronation.

This crackdown on the right to protest has been described as undemocratic, unnecessary and draconian and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the UK government to reverse the Public Order Bill as soon as feasible.

Surely it is time for us adults to take our responsibilities to the younger generation seriously and “get climate done”!

By Eleanor Hill

Alton Climate Action Network