Covid-19 has shown us that we are capable of profound change in the face of an emergency.

As a leadership coach, I am in the business of change. But recently my interest in change has taken on a broader perspective. I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the climate and ecological crisis, and I realised last summer that I needed to focus on trying to make a difference. The world renowned primatologist turned activist, Dr Jane Goodall, said “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Whilst I applaud those who take individual action to curb their carbon footprints, we know that individual action is just tinkering around the edges. There is not enough time. We need systemic, legislative change. Which is why, perhaps as an ex-corporate lawyer, I was drawn to campaigning for a piece of proposed legislation called the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, with a group called the CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire.

Some people are nervous about system change, but the Government’s own Dasgupta Review on the ‘Economics of Biodiversity’ (February 2021) concluded that our prosperity has come at a devastating cost to the natural world, and that we need to fundamentally restructure our economic system and move away from GDP as a measure of economic success. This change is inevitable: bluntly, it is the only way that our civilisation will survive.

The CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire is a network of individuals, organisations, and businesses across Oxfordshire who support the CEE Bill. It is coordinated by a small group of concerned citizens from across Oxfordshire, who share a determination to persuade our Oxfordshire MPs to support the CEE Bill. If passed, the Bill will ensure – in law – that the UK takes full responsibility for its entire carbon footprint, acts to protect our vital ecosystems, and give citizens a say in the transition to a zero carbon society in the form of a ‘climate assembly’.

As the UK is hosting the UN Climate summit in Glasgow this year, it is crucial that we lead the way on this issue. The Bill can also serve as a blueprint for policy-makers in other advanced economies, so that we start to see a fundamental impact on averting the worst of the crisis.

It feels like a privilege to be able to do this work, so I consider myself very lucky, but I also feel that it is my duty as a responsible citizen to speak up and help build awareness about this important issue. As a mother to two teenage boys with a younger stepson and stepdaughter, I find it extraordinary that we are not taking the necessary action to create a stable future not only for ourselves but for our children.

Campaigner Kate Oldridge lives in Oxfordshire

Campaigner Kate Oldridge lives in Oxfordshire

We stumble head-on towards environmental catastrophe and – if we don’t drastically change course – we risk social collapse which will destroy all of our futures. It is as if we can see a juggernaut careering towards us, threatening to wipe us out, and we just look on and stay in its path.

Perhaps it is because I am a parent that my campaigning work feels quite overwhelming and sometimes difficult to step back from, as I develop a growing realisation about the seriousness of the situation. The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation announced last week that the 1.5°C threshold set out in the Paris agreement will soon be temporarily breached. We are on track for a 4°C heating: way over the Paris target. The natural world has reached crisis point. Scientists warn that we are in the beginning of the 6th mass extinction, with 28% of all animal and plant species threatened with extinction. We know there is a direct correlation between the health of the planet and the health of the human race, as Covid-19 has laid bare. Sir David Attenborough, President Biden and Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General) all warn us that the havoc we are wreaking on the planet constitutes an existential threat, but nonetheless we carry on, business as usual.

We would like to invite people of all political persuasions to join us in speaking with one voice to our Oxfordshire MPs and saying that we must listen to the science – as we are told we should for Covid-19 - in order to mitigate the worst effects of the emergency.

This week, we have taken the opportunity of the meeting of the G7 Health Ministers in Oxford to highlight the links between biodiversity loss and increased risk of pandemics, and to explain why the CEE Bill offers a solution to this. See to find out more, and we welcome Oxfordshire businesses and organisations to sign our open letter to Oxfordshire MPs on the site.

As we transition to a zero carbon society, we will need to fundamentally change our human behaviours. We will need to change the way we shop, the way we eat, the way we heat our homes, the way we travel. But I firmly believe that the vast majority of the changes that we will need to make will be changes for the better.

We need to be bold and courageous as we rebuild a stronger, better society where our air is clean, our soil is rich, and our food is locally-sourced and nutritious. Where our beautiful Oxfordshire countryside is buzzing with biodiversity, where our businesses are prosperous and geared towards people and planet, and where all of our futures – including those of our children – are bright and full of hope.

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