The Great British Public are on it. They know we are racing towards climate catastrophe, but they need to know how to help pull on the brakes.
How do they cut through the noise and learn how to adapt to extreme weather that threatens homes and children’s futures? How do they learn which small lifestyle tweaks add up to meaningful change?
What Britain needs urgently is a public information campaign, coordinated by Government, delivered by credible scientists and trusted individuals, to reduce paralysing climate anxiety and empower people to take meaningful action.
A campaign must spell out the benefits of green choices and the collective responsibility we all have to our planet.
Just as Covid communications galvanised the public, we must educate every household about the right environmental choices - quickly.
The Prime Minister himself said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September: “Daily, weekly, we are doing such irreversible damage that, long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable.”
Yet at the Conservative Party Conference this week he, and most of his cabinet, barely mentioned the environment – the second most important issue for citizens. Voters need to know you are serious and want to know what to do next. Unlike the pandemic, we can’t wait for a golden bullet from scientists.
There is no vaccine for global warming, there is only action.
The Government must reassure the public about the financial upsides of green homes, ethical investment and eco-industry.
Ministers should be arguing strongly for the benefits of wind farms, heat pumps and electric cars, and not letting naysayers sway consumers.
I set up my company One Home: Positive Solutions in 2018 to do just that; help consumers make choices to protect the environment that benefit them and their loved ones and prepare for increasing change and uncertainty ahead.
We give clear, user-friendly, impartial advice to accelerate the transition and increase resilience.
We have a big impact for a small team but we can’t reach every household in Britain.
Politicians think in short-term election cycles. We drastically need a long-term programme and we need the Government to sell that vision to the public.
Build back braver, Boris. Take difficult decisions. Start taxing polluters. Release a plan for how you are going to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. Publish your expected Heat and Buildings Strategy that will tell homeowners how to improve their energy efficiency and save money. Improve our housing stock, currently the worst in Europe.
But bring the public with you when you do it. When the public understands the benefits they react.
September saw the best month for electric car sales on record, almost equalling the entire number of sales in 2020.
Daily meat consumption in the UK has fallen by 17 per cent in the last decade.
If you explain that driving your kids to school in a polluting SUV will damage children’s lungs people will change habits.
We must explain the financial benefits of keeping energy in your home particularly now when families are facing increasing energy bills.
If you highlight that insulating your loft can have a one-year pay back on the initial cost as well as reducing future energy bills for 40 years then homeowners will act.
If families know why food waste warms the planet and in turn causes prices to rise and food shortages, they will be less likely to waste food.
They will make smart choices about everyday things like plastic-wrapped bananas, so supermarkets will stop stocking plastic-wrapped bananas.
If consumers start buying better, businesses will react quickly and invest in cleaning up their own act.
It’s a conversation that needs to happen together. We need to spell out the problems but also the solutions otherwise people will look away.
The Climate Change Committee chief executive Chris Stark agrees.
He said this week: The crucial task of a public information campaign is to get ready for the changes ahead, and also to present them in a positive light because there’s this feeling often of how difficult this will be.
Many of the changes that lie ahead are profoundly positive not just for the climate but also for things like health and air quality.”
The Scottish Government launched its own public information campaign, Let’s Do Net Zero, in June, months ahead of COP26 to be held in Glasgow.
The Prime Minister needs to catch up. He should write to every household in the country explaining this urgency and crucially how we can all help tackle the climate crisis.
Boris is fond of accusing his predecessors of “dither and delay”.
But by ducking out of big decisions and dragging his feet selling the vision of a greener future, that is just what Boris is doing on climate change.