What (else) we get if we take ambitious action on climate change

The International Panel on Climate Change has just released a report into how we can avoid warming the Earth above 1.5 degrees celsius. This is the first in a series of reflections on the report and what it means for climate action. After Leo Murray on how no change is not an option and Alice Bell on how our media coverage could step up, here’s Max Wakefield on what else we gain from tackling climate change.

I’ve been pretty sad since that IPCC report came out (you know, the one about having 12 years to almost halve global emissions). Sad and angry. For over half my lifetime I’ve cared deeply about something called climate change. And every year, objectively, that something has got worse and harder to solve. This is the terrible truth.

I will never understand how the spectre of global climate breakdown doesn’t grip everyone in the stomach like it grips me, without letting go - twisting a little harder as every month passes.

I will never understand the deathwish of the deniers and the sceptics, so secure and smug in their sophisticated ignorance, scorning their own children and loved ones for a badge of honour.

But it’s my job - quite literally - to persuade people that their time is best spent taking action on climate change, in turn inspiring others to do so too. Unfortunately, this is not an activity best undertaken while angry.

In reality, it shouldn’t be that hard.

If you want clean, fresh air - if you want streets, not roads - if you want trees of every kind - if you want birds in them - if you want more free time, and less work - if you want town centres made for people - if you want more community - if you want less stuff - if you want to slow down - if you want good food - if you want life all around you - if you want health all around you - if you want excellent, affordable public transport - if you want a warm home - if you want a humane commute - if you want neighbours you know - if you want vibrant countryside - if you want locally owned energy - if you want wildflowers and wild animals - if you want smart tech - if you want peace between countries - if you want better mental health -  if you want democracy - if you want security for your kids - if you want kids - if you want fairness - if you want justice - if you want more parks, fewer carparks - if you want more butterflies - if you want an absence of fear - if you want less waste - if you want less haste - if you want to end racism - if you want to end sexism - if you want prosperity across the world - if you want children to play in the road - if you want weather you can trust - if you want ingenuity - if you never want to see another oil spill - if you want calm - if you want high standards - if you want to take pride in your generation - if you want stable politics - if you want to enjoy your old age...

I could go on. If you want these things then you want ambitious, era defining action on climate change. The alternative is a lurching erosion of almost everything you value. There is so much to be gained. It’s essential we focus on that.

Max Wakefield is lead campaigner at 10:10 Climate Action.

Photo by Peter Hershey.