Parliament has been busy these few days. The echo of the scandal of Owen Paterson lobbying for his private clients has struck a sour note across the land. Prime Minister Johnson’s defence of him was wrong although he was quick to abandon him when the going got tough. His decision to not show up in Parliament when this was debated was moral cowardice.
Decent people should expect better of MPs and we must deal with the lobbyist and those who see Parliament as a place to secure their second job.
We debated as well the growing crisis in Bosnia. Older readers will remember over a quarter of a century ago when Bosnia dominated the news. Serb nationalists went to war and the world echoed to reports of the slaughter of innocent women, children and men including the brutal slaying of 8,000 boys and men in Srebrenica in one single massacre. Refugees fled across Europe. So sad to record that Serb nationalists are once again challenging the world and we must take up this challenge to prevent a repeat of the past.
And of course, Covid has not gone away. Very serious issues like these challenge us all and we need real leadership not slick slogans. But the overwhelmingly most important issue we face is, and will be for decades to come, climate change.
I hope as I write this that the COP26 climate change conference is a success, we need it to be and our children’s children depend on it. So far the news coming through is mixed. Russia and especially China not sending their leaders is a bad signal but President Biden is there and clearly trying to move opinion in the US. Some progress has been made but not enough. The promise on saving global forests, for example, is great but it has to translate into action.
Promises simply aren’t enough and a credible analysis tells us that taking into account actions committed, the world is heading for 2.4C of warming against the 1.5C we must get to. Our own Met Office warns that a billion people globally could be affected by fatal heat and humidity if we reach that limit. A Bosnia out of control would be nothing in terms of refugees flooding round the world compared to a climate disaster.
This isn’t alarmist, it is soberly and brutally alarming and is the continuous warning bell that every government and every person on this earth must hear.
This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 13 November 2021.