Burnley Green Party leader issues 'adapt or die' warning ahead of COP26

The leader of Burnley's Green Party has sent out an impassioned plea that it is "more urgent than ever" to tackle the growing climate and ecological emergency.
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Coun. Andy Fewings, who also sits as a Lancashire County councillor alongside colleague Gina Dowding in County Hall, was speaking to the Burnley Express ahead of the forthcoming COP26 UN Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow.

Today, there are no less than five Green Party councillors sitting on Burnley Borough Council, numbers perhaps indicative of the public's heightened perception of the risks being posed to our world by climate change.

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And while the fight to reverse climate change requires a global effort, not least from the world's worst polluters including China, Andy agreed that we can all play our part at home - including councils, businesses and individuals.

The leader of Burnley Green Party, Coun. Andy FewingsThe leader of Burnley Green Party, Coun. Andy Fewings
The leader of Burnley Green Party, Coun. Andy Fewings

Speaking on a wide range of issues, Andy called on the UK Government to do more to cut carbon emissions, and faster. He also believes that the nation should be embracing technology to create new livelihoods for people, and that Burnley has the skilled engineers to do that.

"It is more urgent than ever to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. We are already feeling the effects of climate change with extreme weather events all around the globe. Just two weeks ago the Environment Agency issued an 'adapt or die' warning because of severe weather events that are already inevitable after decades of inaction," Coun. Fewings said.

"COP26 is our last good chance to put the brakes on and prevent runaway Climate Breakdown. It is about trying to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. However, our Government is only aiming for net zero by 2050. The inconvenient and undeniable truth is that those timescales are not compatible with the 1.5 degree target.

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"The UK needs bold and ambitious targets that will lead from the front and raise global ambition – giving other countries a clear reason for why they too should go further and faster in their national commitments to limit global warming. The UK Government has so far failed to detail how they plan to decarbonise each and every sector."

Looking closer to home, Coun. Fewings said the ordinary man and woman in the street need to be protected in terms of their livelihoods as the world changes to new ways of production.

The pressure group Insulate Britain has attracted plenty of negative headlines in recent weeks with their unpopular tactics of blockading roads, but their central message of insulating British homes is one Andy alludes to when highlighting how green solutions can create jobs in the long term.

He said: "We also need to make sure that tackling climate change works for the public. Climate change will affect the poorest people in societies across the world the most.

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"I am particularly keen to seen a Green New Deal which provides a just transition away from industries which have got us into the mess and takes advantage of a green jobs revolution to provide the long-term skilled jobs and careers.

"Those are the opportunities the people of Burnley and East Lancashire urgently need and deserve, including providing the jobs for people to move into from those existing industries.

"For example, a street by street insulation programme is needed to reduce carbon emissions from housing, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and help tackle fuel poverty.

"Large Onshore Wind Turbines worth billions a year are currently all imported from main land Europe, let's make them here in Lancashire. We have the skilled engineers to do it and it’s a win win situation.

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"The technological solutions are already out there, we just need to political will to do this. I hope, on the world stage in Glasgow, the UK Government will stop dithering and get on with the job of tackling the climate emergency and create the green jobs revolution our economy so desperately needs. That’s what we need from COP26."