Jersey needs to "get on" with tackling climate change for the sake of future generations, one of the 45 islanders involved in the Citizens' Assembly has said, suggesting the island could become a model of sustainable living rather than being known for 'Jersey Housewives' and a "high-cost, throwaway culture."
Philip Clyde-Smith (41), a film director and editor, was one of 45 randomly selected people to help draw up a list of recommendations on how to help tackle climate change.
The Citizens' Assembly report was published earlier this week and their recommendations will be discussed by the States Assembly during an in-committee debate in July. It is expected the Government will set out how the recommendations could be implemented in its Carbon-neutral roadmap, which islanders will be invited to share their views on, before it is debated in the States Assembly in Spring 2022.
Pictured: Philip said he felt like climate change was an existential problem he couldn't do much about.
While Philip was aware of climate change and had been interested in environment when he was younger, he said he was not a “climate change warrior” and struggled to see what he could do about it. Having become more aware of the issue in the midst of the pandemic and after seeing David Attenborough's documentary as well as demonstrations from Extinction Rebellion – “I do not necessarily agree with everything they do but they've have put it on the agenda” – he seized the opportunity to join the Citizens’ Assembly.
“It felt really big, like this huge existential problem I can’t really do anything about on a personal level, like it's not my problem,” he said. “I enjoy such a carbon-heavy lifestyle - I drive, I fly for work and things - but it’s something you put out of your mind because if you think about it, it’s pretty full on and quite scary.
“When I got the letter, it was in January, I thought, ‘I can actually go and participate in something that could possibly make a difference.”
As a father-of-two, Philip said he was inspired to take part by a desire to influence the future of his children’s generation and make the island “a better place to live”.
“I would argue that by going to a carbon neutral way of life, we will all be better off for it,” Philip said. “In the long term, we won't have any choice because the rest of the world is going that way.
“How do you imagine Jersey in 2030 with 2050? You would want less cars, you would want cleaner transport so your kids aren’t breathing in fumes, you’d want to be able to get around the island easy, you would want your home to be warm, you'd want to be using cleaner, renewable. We live in such a beautiful environment, why wouldn't you want to protect it?
“In my head, I’ve imagined my daughter's grandchildren talking to her and the things I'd rather them say is ‘thank you’ to her for taking the initiative to do something rather than, ‘why didn't you do more?’”
Pictured: The Assembly had online discussions between themselves and with experts.
While he wished the Assembly had had more time to discuss the “huge topic” that is climate change, Philip said he had enjoyed the “very positive experience”, especially the online discussions and debates with the other 44 members of different backgrounds and ages, which he said had been “highly intellectually stimulating”.
“What was really interesting was that there were younger people in their twenties and at uni, who obviously were quite idealistic; and much older people who have lived life and the realities of life. I think those two people were quite worried about each other and how they would get on, but at the end of it, they said the anxiety went and they realized they could be entirely honest and they thought they were listened to and they learned from each other.
"That's why I think people's assemblies are really good because we live in a very divided world because of maybe social media and stuff, but I think it does heal, it does help bring different people together. It is a very positive thing, especially for a small island.”
Philip said all the Assembly agreed that people should be educated on climate change and the need for action. They also agreed their recommendations should not adversely affect islanders on lower incomes and tried to come up with ideas on how to avoid this.
Pictured: "The earlier we lower our carbon down, the more benefits we'll get earlier," Philip said.
When deciding when those recommendations should be implemented by, the group again agreed that “we needed to get on with it” after years of inaction.
“Our thought was to say if we get to carbon-zero by 2030, it's better to spend the money now than afterwards if we have to pay for offset eventually. Even if we didn't do it by 2030, let’s say we do it by 2050, we will still have to pay for carbon offsets in 2050, by that stage, it could be hundreds of millions of pounds a year. The earlier we lower our carbon down, the more benefits we'll get earlier. Every pound we spend now, we'll be better off, but it is right, there is a huge cost. We need to transition to a low carbon economy, but the sooner we do it, the better it will be for all of us in terms of lifestyle and finances.
“We're going to have to do it anyway, there's no choice. The rest of the world's going to do it full stop, so why not jump the gun? An island like Jersey could be an island for sustainable living instead of the Jersey Housewives, high-cost, throwaway culture. We have an opportunity to be a better island and I think perhaps it’s worth it.
“I don’t think there is one recommendation that is more important than the others, we need to tackle everything at once, it's a holistic thing. It’s the way we live, it's everything. Education is the key to it on all levels.
“I got taught climate change when I was in my primary school, so I've known about it since then. Basically, I've lived a heavy carbon life and had a very good life at the expense of the [younger generations’] future. I should be paying to fix their future if I'm looking at it selflessly, but it's much easier not to do that. I think we do owe it to them, we need to sort something out and make it a better world, otherwise we will be known as the most selfish generation ever.”
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