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In yesterday’s Guardian article Lord Chris Smith, Outgoing Environment Agency Chair, said reduced funds and rising risks were an “inconvenient truth” and that failing to improve flood protection in the face of more frequent and extreme events presents a false economy. Last night he was at the RSA to announce his simple 12 point plan to combat climate change. You can see the full twelve points here but each of these can fit into just three categories; accepting climate change as an issue of global importance; strong leadership; collaborative working.

1)      We need to accept climate change is a major challenge of the 21st century globe hands x120

Instead of disusing if/how/why climate change is effecting us, we need to accept the scientific evidence that this is a major challenge we face and plan, adapt and invest accordingly. We cannot ignore the impact of climate change and we need to consider the environmental impact of every decision we make going forward.

2)      Governments need to stand up against Climate change 

The way in which the main political parties pandered to UKIP in the recent European election is a prime example of what is happening in climate change policy. Instead of coming out and tackling UKIP policy head on, the main parties responded in fear of losing valuable seats in the election; the exact same thing is happening as we approach the 2015 general election. The ‘greenest government ever’ has been ‘extremely disappointing’ according to Lord Smith and the main reason for this is the fear of losing the votes of sceptics. We need to see a similar stance to that of President Obama, from all the main party leaders - it’s not ‘green crap’ and we need strong leadership to tackle the effects of climate change head on.

3)      We need to work together - climate change effects everyone & we can only combat it collectively 

Climate change should not be a partisan issue – we need to stop thinking in terms of parties being pro or anti action on climate change and start working together for the greater good. Our response to climate change needs to be bottom up, top-down, side to side, well regulated but most importantly a collaborative effort. Anyone can change the world through individual action but only if the overwhelming majority are pulling in the same direction. 

If we can face up to these challenges and tackle them head on collectively, we have a much better chance to improve society for the better

As a society we face huge challenges at the beginning of the 21st Century. In the UK these include our approach to immigration, housing, education; climate change… the list goes on. You can’t underestimate the importance of tackling these issues but sometimes I think we overcomplicate things. I believe the three points above can be transferred to all the major challenges we face. If we can stand up to these challenges and tackle them head on collectively, we have a much better chance to improve society for the better.

At the RSA we have been tackling these major challenges since we were founded in a London coffee shop in 1754. Our 27,000 Fellows are proving that together we are greater than the sum of our parts and by working collaboratively we really can make a difference. If you are not already a Fellow and would like to find out more, you can email me at mark.hall@rsa.org.uk.

Mark Hall is a Fellowship Development Coordinator at the RSA – follow on twitter @MarkHallRSA

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