Following the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) setting out the final part of its Sixth Assessment Report, it’s now crucial that we apply greater pressure on the UK Government.
Frank Adlington-Stringer, local Councillor and Green Party activist, spoke with us to highlight current issues in Government, the importance of political engagement, and how climate coaction will shape the future.
Frank, 25, became a Parish Councillor in Wingerworth, North East Derbyshire, in the winter of 2020. Following an undergraduate education in Politics and a two-year hiatus from education, Frank describes himself as a creative person.
Having taken some time out prior to university, Frank reflected on the world around him and realised that something needed to change. Nobody would do this for him, and so began his political journey. Frank took it upon himself to do everything he could to get involved with the local political structure and make some change, which he suggested others should follow.
Image Credit: Frank Adlington-Stringer
In those two years out, Frank came alive to the problems that face our planet.
‘We need action now. Ever since I became aware of this crisis, I’ve tried to find ways to do this. Politics is the way that we actually make a difference.
‘When I first started getting engaged politically, I was writing to my MP all the time. It got to a point where I felt like I was convincing the wrong people to do the right thing. Was he going to change his whole political ideology because of me? No,’ says Frank,
Climate efforts continue to surface on individual levels yet remain ignored by those in power. For Frank, these political behaviours were a watershed in his actions.
‘There’s very little point trying to convince the wrong people - those already in politics - to make the right choices. We’re not going to convince those people to create the change that we want. What we have to do instead is replace them. We can’t expect the wrong people to be doing that for us.’
Through his work in the community, Frank has learnt the importance of action on a local scale.
‘When people think about politics, they think about all the negativity in the world. When actually, on a local level, it can be really positive. It’s the small stuff that really makes a difference,’ he says.
Whilst individual action and local and political advocacy have the power to implement change, in order to have a significant impact, we require a shift in attitude from the Government.
Frank argues: ‘It’s having the political will to do it. That comes with changing our perspective on the climate crisis. We have to accept that it’s an existential threat that we face; it needs rapid, radical action, and therefore, we have to do everything we can to stop it.’
So why aren’t the Government doing anything? Democracies are created to implement our wants and care for our needs. Yet, they continuously fail to safeguard both the empirical impact of climate change and the integrity of democratic life.
But what about the Government’s Net Zero Strategy?
‘The Government set this 2050 target, going against the science - which says we need to decarbonise by 2030 – they’ve done that because they feel that we need to be realistic. What’s the point in aiming for something that you think you can achieve? We should only be using targets that really push us,’ says Frank.
Last-ditch climate warnings from scientists are routinely ignored by Government. Many argue that this IPCC’s most recent report could be the ‘last comprehensive assessment of climate science while there is still time to avoid the worst ravages of climate breakdown.’
Frank believes that the Government’s first point of call must be to stop damage. Before they even begin to talk about preparing society, they need to stop authorising new coal mines, stop authorising licences to drill in the North Sea and stop environmental destruction caused by things like HS2: ‘They really need to stop what they’re doing and then can we think about how we make positive change.
‘At the moment, we have a Government which is intent on destroying the environment, in this country and abroad, in favour of creating vast amounts of profits and boosting the economy. Until that attitude changes, nothing will.
‘Unless you’ve got Greens in the room, I’m sorry to say, but there’s really not going to be the action that’s needed.
Frank with Caroline Lucas MP. Image Credit: Frank Adlington-Stringer
Similar to his peers, Frank received a dire climate education throughout his primary and secondary years, hence why he feels so passionate about the Green-backed Natural History GCSE that is set to be introduced: ‘Introducing this would be fantastic, but the climate crisis should be intertwined with everything that children are learning at school. It’s going to impact everything.’
Frank suggests the most significant impact is standing up for what you believe in and being a spokesperson for himself and the other people in the community that hold those same values: ‘Being there and having those discussions, providing that input and making people question themselves is so valuable. You, as an individual, have a right to do that.
‘We have a fantastic power as individuals, and that is the power to vote. We choose these people, so to complain about these people, we’re complaining about the people we chose. I know that we have a broken political system, but I would encourage anyone to get out there and vote and campaign for candidates that they believe in.’
As for worsening eco-anxiety, Frank advises people not to beat themselves up about this. Nobody is perfect, and learning to navigate a more climate-friendly lifestyle is a continuous battle. He adds: ‘We all have this stress and concern inside us, and by adding to our list of responsibilities, it perpetuates that vicious cycle and the Government love it. They’re very happy for us to take on more responsibilities as individuals because it takes the onus away from them.
‘Ultimately, the national Government needs to step up and lead the way. They’ve got to empower people to make decisions, they’ve got to make it affordable for individuals to get solar panels and electric vehicles, educate our children properly, and support initiatives in the community which are going to stop the climate crisis.’
To follow Frank and learn more about his role, click here.