Campaigners call for new climate plan

Old habits: The first windmills were built in AD500 for grinding grain. © Alamy

Are we on the brink of a green revolution? The lockdown has meant the UK has avoided coal power for two months. Activists are urging the government to use it as a chance to change for good.

What’s happening

In the 1750s, coal was changing Britain. Factories were built, steam engines invented, and railways sprang up across the country. More than 200 years on, the UK is celebrating two months without the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution. Many see this milestone as the sign of a greener future.

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Over the past two months, the pandemic has halted manufacturing and increased home working. Pollution is down, rivers are running cleanly, and Britain is using more renewable energy than ever.

As the government starts thinking about what will happen after lockdown, many hope it will keep the environment at the heart of its plans. Greenpeace says that the crisis is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to change how we live. One organisation has sent a manifesto to the government suggesting new cycle lanes, walking routes, and rules about petrol cars.

In surveys, the public says it supports tackling climate change – but there are concerns that some of the larger changes will be unpopular.

Are we about to have a green revolution?

Some say…

Probably not. Changes like banning some cars, changing roads, and building wind farms will be expensive and unpopular. Britain has only worked without coal while in lockdown. Once people return to work, electricity will be in high demand again. When the lockdown ends, people will be more focused on restoring normal life as quickly as possible.

Others think…

Yes! Big organisations, including Heathrow airport, are supporting the change to clean energy. The government is also on board, meaning that the end of lockdown could bring environmental action. The pandemic has already forced us to alter our lives, so the changes suggested will not feel so huge. It is a perfect chance to change for the good of the planet.

You Decide

  1. Is climate change the world’s greatest challenge?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are living 200 years from now. Write a story describing how a green industrial revolution changed the world.

Some People Say...

“The climate crisis has already been solved. We have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is change.”

Greta Thunberg

What do you think?

Word Watch

Industrial Revolution
A time of rapid development of factories in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many people moved from the countryside to find jobs in towns and cities where factories were built.
Renewable energy
An energy source that does not run out when used, like wind energy.
Greenpeace
An international environmental organisation that fights climate change and supports the natural world.
Manifesto
A published list of the aims and values of an individual or a group.
Wind farms
A large group of power turbines. The new plan suggests huge numbers of new off-shore wind farms around the British coast.

Subjects

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