HELLO, my name is Assa and I’m a procrastinator. I’m sure you are a procrastinator too.

We all have those tasks we’d rather avoid, like doing your taxes, calling the energy supplier, or returning that call from the annoying relative (now you know all my problems). But there is no running away from them. Guess what? You’re not alone.

However, there comes a moment when you realise that all that procrastination is just making you even more anxious and stressed. Pushing things back has only made them worse. So, you decide to do the smart thing: just do it.

You summon the courage and willpower, and you take action. And then, when it’s done, you congratulate yourself for having tackled it head-on. You move on with your life, breathe a sigh of relief, and say to yourself, “Phew! I’m so happy this is behind me now!”

I wish we had the same approach with climate change. We’d rather not think about it, but it’s here, and it’s getting worse – much worse. The longer we delay, the more catastrophic and uncontrollable it becomes, like a wildfire left unchecked. The only option left is damage control, but the longer we procrastinate, the harder it becomes to control the damage.

When is the right time to start planting trees? The answer is decades ago. When should we begin reducing carbon emissions? The urgency is now, but in reality, we’re already running late.

If we had invested in proper home insulation a decade ago, we might not be grappling with the burden of skyrocketing energy prices today. Just imagine if we had transitioned to cleaner energy sources like solar and wind earlier, reducing our dependence on oil, gas, and coal.

Climate change makes it abundantly clear that postponing difficult decisions today only leads to even more challenging choices tomorrow. By delaying action, we’re effectively exposing ourselves to a potentially catastrophic future. This is a risk that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak seems willing to take.

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For nearly a year, Sunak has been at the helm as Prime Minister, and his approach to environmental concerns has been notably lacklustre. However, his recent announcement of postponing critical measures crucial to the UK’s aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 suggest an even greater level of disinterest.

This goal, etched into national law since 2019, positions the UK as a pioneer in legally binding climate commitments. Sunak’s timing is no coincidence; with a General Election on the horizon next year and his Conservative Party trailing significantly behind Labour in the polls, it appears he may be banking on these actions as potential vote-winners.

While it’s undeniably true that transitioning to a net-zero economy carries a significant price tag, the harsh reality is that we’re already paying a high cost for our procrastination. In fact, our current expenditures far exceed what we would have spent if we had made wise decisions years ago.

Consider this: shouldn’t we have invested billions of pounds in renovating homes and adopting decarbonised heating systems instead of continuously shelling out funds to offset rising prices? Opting for renewable energy sources would have been a far-sighted move, sparing us from exorbitant bills and the spectre of winter energy shortages. As our situation continues to deteriorate and impending crises loom large on the horizon, things will only be more difficult.

Today, we’re facing a massive challenge. We have to get done in less than 10 years what should have taken us three decades. This speedy shift to decarbonisation means big changes in our everyday lives – how we get around, where we live, and how we work and consume. These changes are enormous, and they need our full commitment.

IT is not just the UK: climate procrastination extends to other countries. France, too, is delaying critical measures. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his plans to achieve a 55% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

He said he wants a “progressive” approach to the environment, with a transition that reconciles sovereignty, competitiveness and social justice. He set some ambitious goals, including the production of one million heat pumps in France, reducing fossil fuel dependency and launching a dozen big public transport projects.

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He explained that his strategy consisted of encouraging rather than coercing. However, what his critics argue is that this approach carries the risk of a slower transition, leaving France in an uncertain middle ground, without having made any significant progress towards net zero.

Since taking office six years ago, Macron has retreated from his initial positions a few times. Despite having a predominantly decarbonised electricity supply, thanks to nuclear and renewable sources, France still relies on two coal-fired power plants, accounting for 0.6% of the country’s electricity production in 2022.

Macron has now pledged to convert these plants to biomass by 2027, a commitment that contradicts his 2017 campaign promise to end coal usage by last year.

Ironically, I’m not even sure if these actions can win votes or if people will readily get behind measures that are universally understood to harm the environment. It makes me wonder whether our governments truly get the seriousness of what scientists mean when they talk about us creating a planet that’s unliveable.

It’s not just extreme climate events; it’s also about less food security and the impact on our health. We’re talking about diseases related to air pollution, the risk of new viruses emerging and causing pandemics, and the growth of climate-sensitive diseases like dengue or malaria.

Polls show the majority of the public strongly supports the goal of achieving carbon neutrality. Environmental issues hold the third spot on the list of concerns among British people alongside the NHS, and right after inflation and the economy, according to the Ipsos Issues Index in August.

You could say: there is no use crying over wasted years. What is done is done – or more accurately, what’s not been done is not done. Well, yes, obviously.

But this is precisely my point: we know. Now, we know. By God, we’re learning the hard way. Haven’t we all seen the same summer? Haven’t we all witnessed the droughts, the fires, the storms, the catastrophe in Libya after Storm Daniel? Haven’t we all endured a deadly pandemic?

These events happened because of human actions.

Albert Einstein is often attributed this quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well, if that’s the measure, our approach to climate change has indeed been nothing short of insanity. We’ve brushed aside the warnings, put off crucial choices, and now we’re facing the consequences.

But what truly gives me hope is that it appears the penny is finally dropping. People are realising that climate change is affecting us here and now, not just a distant threat, and the most vulnerable in our society will bear the heaviest burden.

Procrastination is no longer an option.