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It’s the climate, stupid

It’s the climate, stupid

As flooding continues to cause damage and chaos across the country, isn't it time our politicians connected the dots to climate change?

Winter storms in recent weeks have led to the highest rainfall and worst flooding many of us have ever seen or experienced in our lives. As the waters finally begin to recede, communities and councils around the country are counting the costs of this extreme weather and realising that current government action on climate change just doesn't add up.

Whilst scientists, the Met Office and environmental groups were quick to point to the increasing certainty linking the severity of weather patterns to a warming climate, politicians were busy playing the blame game.

For months before the storms hit, campaigners had been highlighting the potential impact of Government's spending cuts on flood defences in a warming world and yet, when the floods arrived, MPs and ministers seemed only too eager to point the finger at the failings of the Environment Agency's flood defences on national news. Steering the debate towards flood spending was a well-calculated ploy by politicians to avoid the real questions that the media should have been asking about its root causes.

What lies behind this reticence to discuss the looming climate crisis? One third of current UK government ministers have links to dirty money from coal, oil and gas companies and from those bankrolling the industry doing the most to cause climate change. Can this be a coincidence?

With all pretence at being “the greenest government ever” now firmly swept under the rug, the government's slow reaction to recent climate change impacts in our own backyard has brought these dodgy connections sharply into focus. The fossil fuel industry has a powerful grip over many of our politicians and still wields far too much influence over any attempts to pass stronger climate legislation and policies. You only have to look as far as UK efforts to block stronger EU climate targets recently or at the new tax breaks being given to encourage fracking for shale gas by the UK Treasury.

There are signs of hope though, as a resurgent environmental movement begins to grow once more. Recent flooding has only served to swell its ranks, as was exemplified last week when tens of thousands of people contacted their MPs and signed petitions calling for tougher climate action and an end to political parties accepting donations from fossil fuel companies.

David Cameron and a hoard of MPs may have finally got the message and donned their wellies for a few soggy photo opportunities, but their hypocrisy and lack of leadership on climate change remain the real cause for headlines.