ED Gemmell is on the warpath.
Worried, angry and disappointed by the response of the mainstream political parties to the crisis of climate change, the Buckinghamshire councillor decided the only adequate response was to launch a new political party solely dedicated to saving the planet.
Make way for the Climate Party – a self-explanatory centre-right party with just one issue dominating its agenda.
Writing in The Guardian this month, Ed accused those involved in the Tory party leadership race of completely ignoring the crisis in their pitches to become the country’s next prime minister, while maintaining that all the mainstream parties had “miserably failed” Britain on climate issues.
“Likened to the inept Dad’s Army by the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the Conservative government is not even on track to its meet own target to hit net zero by 2050 – a target considered by many scientists to be too late to avoid dangerous and increasingly lethal climate chaos,” he wrote.
Standing in front of Big Ben on the hottest day of the year (July 19), he was flanked by two of more than 100 candidates he claims will take on the Tories in marginal seats at the next election: Sarah Hutchison and Windsor and Maidenhead councillor Wisdom da Costa.
For Ed, the party launch was just the latest twist in a career which has seen his convictions steadily grow about the urgency of the need for political change in our climate priorities.
As a parish councillor in Hazlemere, the former army officer and city lawyer was instrumental in the council making a “climate emergency declaration” and pioneering a “Bee Squared” project to rewild land for pollinators, issuing thousands of packets of wildflower seeds to local households.
Although he was trounced in the 2019 general election as an independent candidate for Wycombe, losing his deposit and watching Tory Steve Baker returned with a 4000-plus majority, he was more successful in winning an independent seat on the new unitary council for Buckinghamshire and is also managing director of Scientists Warning Europe, a charity focused on promoting science-endorsed solutions to the climate crisis.
Yet despite his belief in the “indisputable” scientific basis of his campaign, critics have dismissed his party for its “modest” social media presence and the Guido Fawkes political blog openly mocked the low-key launch of what it called “a new eco party pitching itself as the parliamentary wing of Extinction Rebellion”.
Undeterred, Ed insists we should be setting 2030 as the date for decarbonisation – not just because that’s what will avoid catastrophe, but because Britain has a unique chance to seize an immense commercial opportunity to lead the world in that field – simultaneously helping to solve other major concerns like the cost of living crisis and energy security in the process.
He believes his party’s smart, pro-business ideas could appeal to disenfranchised climate-conscious Conservative voters who feel disrespected and ignored by their leadership, and points out that a third of British councils are already committed to carbon zero by 2030.
At the party’s launch, he told The Guardian his party would also challenge those Conservative backbenchers who oppose the government’s net zero policies.
Instead, his vision is for the UK to become a global leader in the energy transition by stopping all subsidies for fossil fuel companies, implementing polluter-pays policies to stimulate the circular economy, and investing in renewable infrastructures and technologies.
He claims it’s the only way to protect the planet from climate tipping points, a term coined by IPCC scientists 20 years ago to describe the point at which small changes become significant enough to cause a larger, more critical change that can be abrupt, irreversible, and lead to cascading effects.
“We’ve got one election left to save the planet,” he says.
“Britain should be brave, power up and lead the world,” he adds. “Britain can do this. Britain can get climate done!”