Dear David Cameron
I’m writing this to you as an open letter and encourage others to do the same. I know that you have Christian faith and believe in compassionate politics. I know that you believe in the importance of science. I know that you love your children with all your heart. I wonder then what you feel about recent scientific confirmations that global warming is occurring much faster than predicted, that the planet your children are growing up on is heading to be 6C warmer by 2095? (See MIT report)
Because it is very hard to model scenarios that account accurately for the feedback effects such as methane release and the dieback of forests, the situation is even more desperate than can be portrayed. By the time your children reach middle age, life will be extremely stressed for them even with their privileged background, as they will be witnessing deaths and migrations of billions of people and destruction of ever more ecosystems. We now know that dangerous climate change occurs at only 1C of warming, not at 2C as previously thought. It is here already. In 2012, records for warm weather were broken all over the globe and news came in of alarming melting of polar ice, including in the Antarctic, dieback of old trees, excessive forest fires and storms. Can you imagine this news worsening exponentially every year, placing greater stress on our infrastructure and resources leading to greater conflict and inequality?
I assume that you have scientists and NGOs, and even businesses and the World Bank, ringing alarm bells to you about their findings and predictions every day or so, such is the extent and extremity of their data. I assume you have heard in many ways that climate action must be drastic and urgent, to reduce the concentration of CO2 to below 350 ppm within 48 months. Even if this information is filtered so as to muffle its effects I assume that you absorb media reports independently.
When it comes to your Government’s response to this data, I can make no more assumptions because their response is incomprehensible. Ed Davey has just announced that from 2014 you will aim to reduce emissions by 30% (rather than 20%) by 2020. This is rather like a morbidly obese person, on being told by a doctor he will die in 6 months, plan to reduce his intake by 100 calories starting in 12 months time. It is a delayed and uncertain plan, part of a loosened carbon budget that includes fracking for gas, which will contribute to climate change.
Are you aware that your Government’s policies need updating in the light of new data about climate change? Are you aware how much and how imminently climate change threatens the wellbeing of this nation of people you responsibly care for, including your own children? Are you willing to intervene in order to develop urgent divestment policies that might help save millions of lives? As you reflect on Christ’s compassion at the celebration of his birth, are you willing to put your own values into action to combat the social injustices of climate change?
If you are not willing, what will you tell your children when they ask you in coming years what you did in the fight against climate catastrophe?