Flooding crisis made worse by climate change and cuts to services

In 2015 Britain has seen repeated flooding causing large-scale damage. Tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes, suffered days without power and seen their homes and businesses destroyed as storms repeatedly hit the country. In the latest bout of flooding, thousands of people in Manchester, Leeds and York have been hit, sometimes with the worst floods ever, as rivers broke banks.

In Salford, Greater Manchester, the local news magazine, The Salford Star reported that residents had had almost no notice of the floods. People complained that flood gates failed to work after they hadn’t been properly re-fitted following repair work on the estates.

David Cameron has expressed sympathy with victims, and celebrated the work of the emergency workers. But his government’s policies have made the situation far worse. Back in 2011, the then Tory-Liberal coalition government announced an 8 percent cut (£540 million) in spending on flood defences. Government policies that favour the fossil fuel industry, such as fracking, will only increase emissions leading to further climate change and more frequent floods.

Trade unions that represent workers in the emergency services have repeatedly warned of the impacts of austerity measures on their ability to deal with flooding and other severe weather.

Protest has shaped the debate but Paris didn't save the planet

The climate deal agreed by world leaders in Paris this week is being heralded as a historic deal which has set the world on track to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

This is by no means what has happened. 
What is true is that world leaders have been under pressure from a growing global climate movement and community of scientists who have successfully raised awareness of both the issue and the need for serious and urgent action. 
To some extent whatever positives there are in the agreement are a reflection of this pressure. The headline grabbing desire "to pursue efforts to limit temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees" reflects the campaigning of many in the poorest parts of the world that have rightly argued that 2 degrees warming seals their fate. For many years their campaigning slogan has been 1.5 to stay alive! 
It's important that we recognise the impact of protest and pressure on the talks. However there will be and should be no complacency from the movement in the wake of the Paris agreement. 
The deal is historic only in so far as it underlines what the movement has been arguing for years. That there is an urgent and real threat to the climate which will have catastrophic consequences. 
But that threat still remains because the Paris talks have done absolutely nothing to prevent it or begin to tackle it.