Why should our island make the effort?
Jersey is nothing but a drop in the ocean, why should we try to become a "World Class" example of anything?
There is a lot of discussion about Jersey's feeling of self worth when it comes to many things; hospitals, the finance industry, digital connectivity and now sustainability and the climate crisis. Why does this small island think it needs to be a world leader in anything? Why don't we rein back our aspirations, content ourselves with what we have and look after our own?
This week, the potential costs of achieving a net zero greenhouse gas policy of 2030 have been put in the region of £250 - £300 million. Questions are being asked of why should we be so ambitious? Who dreamt this up and where are the facts to support these figures? But the biggest noise I have heard is why should we try to lead the world when China, Russia, India and more don't seem to want to change or even seem to care. What difference will it make, we are just a drop in the ocean?
I am currently sitting in Glasgow at the HQ of GAP Tool and Plant, our parent company ( I travelled by boat and train if you are wondering..). At breakfast this morning I was sitting next to a delegate of the Solomon Islands here for COP26.
I asked how they were being affected by rising sea levels, The Solomons are a vast archipelago South East of Papua New Guinea. Generally very low lying, they are at risk to rising levels. However, this chap said the main risk, the one affecting them now is increased typhoon activity driven by climate change. Recent storm surges had wiped out much infrastructure, destroyed crops and tainted fresh water supplies. This has happened and will continue to happen until the rising sea levels finally take most of the land anyway. There are already structures and plans for evacuation in place for when this happens. Not if, but when.
I explained that I was from Jersey and we are lucky that we have more elevation than them, but do have low lying areas. Luckily, I said, we are rich and the low lying area generates the money so it will be protected.
I asked how to discuss this with people who ask "Why should we bother?" and he said solidarity. We are islands and when facing giant nations, we should stand together, work together and then, perhaps, we could start to guide those giants on a better course.
The climate changing pollution that we create goes into the atmosphere and that is global. Every kilogramme that we emit spreads around the world, it doesn't sit over Jersey alone. Every decision we make also spreads around the world, whether we buy some fruit from Bolivia, some jeans from Malaysia, heat our homes with oil or download ten boxsets from Netflix, we affect the environment.
Maybe, if we decide to change how we buy, check where it is from, consider more than the cheapest option - maybe buy less, but better, we will change the opinions of businesses who gather our data and use it to guide them. If we change, so will they.
Jersey may be small, but our finance and trust industries, like them or loath them, have influence. If our island commits to change, if our influencers commit to change then we may guide others. If that happens soon enough, maybe our fellow islanders in the Solomon Islands can enjoy their home for a little longer.