Climate reality check: Shahrar Ali

“After my active involvement for nearly two decades, I don’t think we have achieved enough.” Shahrar Ali explains why members should vote for him in the upcoming leadership election.

Shahrar Ali leadership candidate

Photo by Stuart Mitchell

Shahrar Ali

Climate reality check

I’ve been political for as long as I can remember. As a child, when I asked my parents why people in faraway lands fought with one another it must have been out of incredulity that a planet, which bore such riches, could be cause for any kind of disharmony. Why didn’t people just get on? Though older and wiser about widespread inequality, this question still bugs me today – whether in awe of the mechanics of our planetary ecosystem or fascinated by human nature and motivation.

I’m standing through necessity. We are the last generation able to save the planet from ourselves. Despite decades of knowing that we were living unsustainably, we carry on trying to have our cake and eat it – with a return to post-Covid short-haul flights and overconsumption. Millennia of technological advancement and unabated pursuit of desires have led to our standing on the edge of an abyss – collectively responsible for countless species extinctions, ecological devastation and now the prospect of universal death.

After my active involvement for nearly two decades, I don’t think we have achieved enough. Yes, we’ve enjoyed record local election results – but one MP and influence in just a handful councils is snail’s pace compared to the political transformation we require. With environmental consciousness and extreme weather calamities at an all-time high, we should be polling double-digit figures.

Debating reality check

When I joined, in 2002, the Green Party conference felt like a university of ideas – where we could debate one another in good faith and still indulge in a round of drinks and laugh together. Today, we have become fractious and risk losing our sense of collective purpose (and humour).

This conflict is evident in discussion of provision of services for transgender people and those who feel impacted by changes to services provided on same-sex lines, especially women. We must return to a culture of open debate, where the taking of offence is not used as a means to prevent those who do wish to debate from doing so.

Party unity will not come from wishfully brushing problems under the carpet, or sitting on the fence while bullies continue their lies and intimidation, but from tackling challenges head on – and having those difficult conversations.

You need a leader not afraid to question, and to actively take a stand against, the abuse directed upon women – many of whom have been driven to resign from parties and others of whom are resisting from within. I will not stand by as a novelist receives rape and death threats for publishing a thought piece. I understand that a rape victim has the right to choose to be examined by a clinician of her sex as a matter of basic human dignity.

I will defend and champion all the protected characteristics enshrined in the Equality Act 2010. This includes the sex-based rights of women and girls, some 52 per cent of the population; a population we can see being persecuted in Afghanistan today.

We must welcome women back to our party, many of whom are feeling politically homeless. No campaign for mass social and political transformation has ever succeeded without women. There will be no human rights for all if we do not succeed in averting universal death from the climate crisis we face.

We need a reality check – for the sake of the planet, for the sake of human rights and for the sake of how we do politics.

  • Deputy Leader 2014-16
  • Author of two popular books in Green politics, 2010 and 2015
  • Founding signatory of Extinction Rebellion
  • Spokesperson for Policing and Domestic Safety
  • Four degrees, including engineering and philosophy PhD