January 2024: A new year…

…but will things change for the better, or are we a country on life support?


2023 has drawn to a close. It was a year in which global fossil fuel emissions hit their highest ever global peak. It was a year in which UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spectacularly rowed back on environmental action. It was also a year in which non-violent climate protesters were imprisoned for record breaking 2-3 year sentences. Calling attention to failing government policy now gets you the same prison time as burglary.

In between writing December’s Dart life and this January update we have had another change of UK Environment Secretary.

Some might argue that in the face of a global climate crisis, the Secretary of State for Environment would be centre stage. Instead, we have seen new political storms dominate the headlines: the UK Government’s Rwanda policy continues to squander priceless parliamentary time that could have been far better spent in a hundred different ways. Infighting and a battle for control of a political party has trumped national and global priorities.

In the meantime, millions of pounds have magically appeared for Plymouth and South Devon’s public-private project – the controversial Freeport (which gives tax breaks for multi-national companies). Millions of pounds have also appeared for expansion of Brixham’s industrial fishing capacity and its ecologically harmful practices.

what hope should we hold for 2024

By contrast, when it comes to finding money to halt ecological collapse, the many millions are nowhere to be found.

Where are the millions of pounds to support the testing and clean-up of rivers?

Where are the millions of pounds to remedy the catastrophic release of cancer-causing PFA ‘forever chemicals’ – which are not even adequately monitored in our waterways?

Image:Lisa Fotios

Where are the millions of pounds for monitoring and enforcement against highly destructive fishing practises around our coasts and out of Brixham?

Where are the millions of pounds for natural solutions to flood defence, the millions for home insulation and sustainable, cheap home heating?

January marks the start of a new year- but without real funding there will be no real action: what hope should we hold for 2024 that this year will be different?

And if it’s not so different- at what point do we turn to non-violent direct action (protest) in the face of destructive and wasteful government failure? And if we do – should we expect a prison sentence for our troubles?

In 2024, we have to ask ourselves: how much value do we really place on rescuing our climate and biodiversity? How much value do we place on our wild spaces, our recreational spaces, our precious river? Who will fight for these things?

In 2024 we will be asking ourselves – is the UK Government even interested?

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Rosemary Clarke
Rosemary Clarke
3 months ago

I am a Brixham resident and so angry that millions have been found for Brixham fishing industry. Why? Because (1) there has been much consultation in Brixham and this has never been a priority for the community (2) the fishing industry (which I understand is no longer a majority of local people owning their own trawler) makes loads of money already so why is the public purse increasing their profits (3) it is as you have stated highly destructive fishing practises around our coasts and out of Brixham.

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