If you’ve been following the local news over the last week, you may have heard some buzz around the formation of a new Climate Change Coalition.
The ‘Triple C’ launched last Tuesday with the aim of lobbying the government on environmental issues. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the new coalition including what it’s all about, why it’s important and how you can help #ProtectOurBiosphere!
Oh Gem of God’s earth
Okay, I know I’m biased, but I feel incredibly lucky to call this clean, green, beautiful island home. When I was studying in London and would come home for a weekend, I’d open my bedroom window and stick my head out, just breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sound of the river trickling through the glen by our house. Living in the crowded, grey, polluted city really made me appreciate just how blessed we are to have this incredible nature right on our doorstep.
And I know I’m not the only one to feel that sense of appreciation – in fact, the island’s beautiful environment and our community’s commitment to protecting it has gained recognition around the world.
In 2016, the Isle of Man was awarded UNESCO biosphere status – the first entire island nation to receive the accolade – thanks to our dramatic coastlines, beautiful countryside, stunning glens and diverse marine life. Our dark skies also draw tourists from around the world, as our open countryside and relatively few built up areas make the island an ideal spot for stargazing.
The Isle of Man’s ‘Dark Skies’ attract stargazers from around the world
Local charity Beach Buddies and its 10,000+ volunteers have been making a name for the island globally as a leader in environmental sustainability. The charity, which just won an IOM Newspapers Award for Excellence for its environmental contribution, is currently planning to open international branches in Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands. It also featured recently in a high profile article in the Guardian, which praised the charity’s work and the island’s “community approach” to protecting the environment.
Local charity, Beach Buddies, regularly organises beach clean-ups all over the island
A sobering call to action
In early October, a sobering report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warning that the world has just 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5°C in order to prevent irreversible damage to the planet that will risk the lives of millions of people.
If global warming exceeds 1.5°C by the year 2030, the environmental effects will likely include more frequent droughts, flooding and extreme weather, rising sea levels and the eradication of coral reefs. This will threaten entire ecosystems and will inevitably have a huge impact on human life: as the competition for land and resources increases, so too will the risk of health issues, conflict and refugee crises.
Now I don’t know about you, but being an island girl I am especially worried by the idea of rising sea levels. And this isn’t something that’s so far in the future that it’s unimaginable either – it’s happening around the world today. The Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands are reportedly slowly disappearing, and in just the last month it has been reported that islands in Japan and Hawaii have disappeared into the sea.
Sinking islands (image: Time Magazine)
The IPCC report warned that the world needed a drastically new approach to protecting the environment. It advocated for governments to work proactively and collaboratively to prevent dangerous levels of global warming, making immediate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to move permanently away from the use of fossil fuels towards alternative, renewable energy sources.
A concerning response
It therefore came as some surprise when, just days after the report’s publication, it was announced that the Isle of Man Government had awarded a local energy company a license to explore Manx waters off Maughold Head for natural gas resources. Unsurprisingly, the announcement concerned many people. The news was met with criticism due to the fear that such activity could damage the surrounding ecosystems and threaten the island’s reputation as a UNESCO biosphere.
When the island was awarded its Biosphere status in 2016, the government made a pledge to UNESCO to protect our natural resources, develop our economy in a sustainable way and to make our environmental impact positive wherever possible (you can read all about the ‘Biosphere Isle of Man Pledge’ on the Biosphere IOM website). But drilling for gas in the oceans contaminates the water and releases greenhouse gases, directly contradicting both the government’s Biosphere pledge and the IPCC’s stern warnings.
Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot further added to the confusion and concern when he took to the airwaves in the wake of the announcement. Boot was criticised for admitting in an interview with Manx Radio that the island’s present trajectory makes it unrealistic that we will meet our current climate targets – which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. He disappointed many by saying that he believes gas will still be playing a role in our energy mix for years to come.
His lack of an optimistic and proactive approach is indeed concerning, but what drew the most criticism was his stance on the concept of climate change itself. Boot expressed doubt over the science behind climate change, suggesting that weather patterns and cycles could be responsible for the extreme weather and droughts of recent years. He has also been accused of fearmongering because of his suggestion that investing in climate change prevention might come at the cost of health services such as cancer care.
Our island community has been celebrated and recognised all over the world for its commitment to protecting the environment. Yet these recent events suggest that this commitment may not be reflected at a government level.
A collaborative solution
We know something needs to change. We know it because the IPCC tells us so. We know it because it’s written in official government policy. And we know it because thousands of Manx people get up early on a Sunday when it’s blowing a hoolie to go and clean their local beaches.
This is why the Isle of Man Climate Change Coalition came about. The Coalition is an unprecedented union with a shared goal. Made up of a collection of local political parties, environmental groups and humanitarian organisations, the Coalition (or the ‘Triple C’) was formed with the aim of encouraging and supporting the government to address climate change by working in three key areas:
Reducing emissions: The CCC wants to see the government set interim targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to ensure that we meet our ‘80% by 2050’ target.
Investing in renewables: The CCC wants to work alongside the government to explore possibilities of investing in renewable energy, such as tidal and wind power, instead of fossil fuels.
Sticking to our Biosphere pledge: The CCC wants to support the government in keeping its promises to UNESCO to protect our natural resources, sustainably develop our economy and to make our environmental impact positive
The following organisations make up the founding members of the CCC:
- IoM Friends of the Earth
- Manx Labour Party
- IoM Green Party
- IoM Woodland Trust
- Manx Energy Advice Centre
- Christian Aid
- One World Centre
- Amnesty IoM
This is just a start and the founding members are really keen to keep growing and adding more individuals and organisations to the list – so if you would like to add your voice, get in touch!
The purpose of the coalition is not to criticise government. Instead, the CCC is dedicated to working alongside government and supporting them in achieving their stated aims. The Coalition also creates a link between the policymakers on the one hand, and the environmental experts, activists and the public on the other.
So far, the response to the coalition has been overwhelmingly positive. The CCC’s Facebook page received over 500 ‘likes’ within hours of launching. The day after the launch in an interview with Manx Radio, MHK Ralph Peake agreed on the need for clear interim targets to be set in order to measure the island’s progress on fighting climate change. He also stated his believe that the Pulrose Power Station must ultimately be replaced by a source of renewable energy.
The coalition will be holding a launch event at the Manx legion on Thursday 22nd November, which the public can attend for free to ask any questions they have about the CCC and its aims. Local musicians Joe Priestly and Loose Crew will also be playing at the event to celebrate the Coalition’s launch.
If you agree that the Isle of Man needs to act urgently to protect our environment and to do our bit to prevent climate change, you can support the Coalition by:
Adding your voice!
- Email the CCC at [email protected] to add yours, or your organisation or company’s name to the list of those already on board.
- Like and share the CCC page on Facebook to spread the word and stay up to date with their work.
- Attend the CCC launch event on Thursday 22nd November at the Manx Legion to show your support and continue the conversation.
- Being a small island means we don’t face the same obstacles as larger nations do when developing policy to protect our environment. This is a huge opportunity for our little island to set a positive example for the world. Join the coalition as we work together to #ProtectOurBiosphere!