Is it the responsibility of ordinary people to reduce climate emissions by, for example, not taking holidays abroad, not using cars etc?
YES! We are all in this. We are all part of the problem. We cannot expect to continue our current way of life on the basis that “There’s no point unless everyone does so I won’t make any significant difference” MIKE TOPP
Yes, there should be legislation – ROGER STEVENS
Yes, it very much is. In the 70s I took and maintain the view that to own a car is wrong for me as there were/are too many cars on the road. Now, with Man Made Climate Change destroying our lives, we MUST be individually aware of our impact. I would love to fly to have a holiday and see old friends, but I have not flown since 2013, before that it was 1981. ‘What difference can I make?’, I keep hearing my family and friends say. A singular responsibility adds up to a collective responsibility. Take charge of our destiny and care about more than yourself. – JEANNE JAMES
With the corporatocracy only paying green washed lip service & socialists, environmentalists & other activists being smeared, I’m afraid it’s a bloody path to eco-authoritarianism or bust. Even conscientious consumers are only going to be able to marginally reduce their carbon footprint given the plutocracy in which they operate. Given the vast difference in citizens’ means, engagement & ability to engage, I’d say no, the system has to change first & leaders have to lead. Post-Corbyn, I’m not sure if that’s possible anymore, at least in the UK. – LICE H-P
Yes – HAZEL
It is incumbent on all people to reduce their carbon footprint. This also includes the rich, for example private jets and yachts should be banned. – DAVID STIRRUP
Most of us remember the lockdowns. We worried about Covid, our work and income. Some people living alone felt isolated. Many took up novel activities, kept fit and enjoyed walking and cycling. In London there was a dramatic impact on air quality, noise pollution, road safety and wildlife. Roads became empty spaces, safe for cyclists and pedestrians. The flattened corpses of wild animals and pets disappeared. Animals became bolder; deer in London parks left their hideouts, foxes grew in confidence. Deafening planes descending to Heathrow were replaced by bird song. We could smell the flowers. The stars were brighter.
All this happened because we did as we were told. There seemed to be a consensus that, despite the suffering, there were many advantages. People began to say we must never go back to how we were before. But the planes have returned, the traffic is heavy, the air is polluted.
We can’t restore the benefits of lockdown at the flick of a switch, but, if such dramatic and beneficial changes can take place when we follow instructions, surely individuals can decide to act and then come together to make a substantial difference. We can make choices about travel, what we buy, the food we eat, how we use the world’s resources. We should individually take responsibility for change but how powerful we would be if we cooperated and acted together. Governments and businesses must be persuaded to do more to save the planet. They might if we take the lead. JO BUCHANAN
Let’s ask a different question: is it the responsibility of all of us not to murder each other or can the rest of us murder because, let’s face it, more people are killed by large corporations than any of us kill individually?
Is saving the planet merely a practical, political discussion or a moral question? If the former, do we just abrogate all our responsibilities to government? Don’t we know that governments tend to do nothing? Therefore, if we are waiting for governments to act, aren’t we justifying the destruction of our own planet?
If saving the planet is a moral question, should we not decide what type of morality we are talking about? Surely most of us accept that it is wrong to refuse to act to prevent a wrong if we have the capacity to do so? That being the case, what mitigation can we offer to not acting to save our own environment?
The argument is very simple. If government is not acting why should I? But your moral responsibility, particularly as it applies to future generations, is not contingent upon somebody else acting. If it is right to act to save the planet, then that is a moral imperative, regardless of whether other less moral individuals do the same. The question then becomes: what will you do? And the answer might well be giving up or reducing things you have been used to doing.
Most moral codes, whether secular or religious, place the maintenance of human life as a foundational belief. Your moral imperative to save life does not rest on what others do. It is your moral duty, nobody else’s. Those with more resources, power and prestige may be better placed to do more, but all of us should do whatever we can. Things are too desperate to leave it to somebody else. DAVE MIDDLETON
Whether you used one word or 300 words all our respondents agreed that as individuals we all have a moral duty to act to reduce climate change. But if those in charge of government and the big corporations continue to refuse to act how can we use our collective power to stop them destroying the planet? That is the Edge Note question for our next edition of Sunday Socialist. The deadline is 27th August for publication on 3rd September. All answers to email@example.com.
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Never voting Labour again.