This time last year, in time for COP26, Oxfam and the Institute for European Environmental Policy released research that provided the stark, but unsurprising news, that the richest 1% of people globally are responsible for an increasingly large proportion of global climate-changing emissions - predicted to reach 16% by 2030 and a staggering 30 times the levels compatible with capping global warming to 1.5⁰C. 

If I struggled to find reasons to be cheerful then, it is even harder now.  

COP27 brings some bleak messages about the impact climate change is having - now - and the clear knowledge that we are only just scraping the surface of the impact that it will have in the future. 

It can be hard to talk about climate change while facing the cost of living crisis - which, with the impact it will have on millions across the country, should not be trivialised. But it is only a small taste of the kinds of impacts on our lives that climate change will have.  

Time and again, we are shown that the costs of living with climate change (which includes energy uncertainty and its resulting well-being and public health implications) are exponentially greater than the costs of tackling climate change (the Stern Review told us that in 2006, and if we didn't listen to that, the Dasgupta Review sent an equivalent message 15 years later). Recent government figures suggest that decarbonising the UK's public buildings will cost £25-£30 billion, but to put that figure into context, the Government is spending £37 billion on help for households, including the £400 energy bills discount per household, this autumn and winter. And the bill only gets larger as we prevaricate. 

To continue to talk about and address climate change, we need an injection of both empathy and accountability. We must remember that low-income households have a disproportionately small climate footprint while being hardest hit by current economic conditions and forced to make short-term financial decisions which will cost them more in the long run (see the Same Vimes Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness, which is more than just my way of shoehorning in reference to the wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett). There is value in personal action and changes for those that have the luxury of choice, but personal responsibility cannot be allowed to be a distraction from systemic change, nor a way of divesting governments and corporations of responsibility - despite what Thérèse Coffey might tell you, neither crisis is going to be solved with the use of reusable coffee cups alone.

Somewhat ironically, both crises - the cost of living and climate - can be addressed through similar action: investment in renewable energies to provide clean, affordable energy (and energy independence), and retrofit works to decarbonise and make energy-efficient our homes and buildings - using government funding sources where they are available but recognising that they are insufficient for the task. If we can make our buildings, homes and our energy consumption cleaner, more affordable, and more efficient, that would be a significant contribution to the wider crisis.  

I find very few reasons to be cheerful, but come to the same conclusion that I did a year ago: action, on all fronts, is the only remedy for a lack of cheer. 

We must act now, and we must act fast, to make up for wasted time.