The ice caps of Greenland. Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

Our planet stands on a precipice. David Cameron's most important task lies ahead

It's vital that the government secures a global deal on climate change at the Paris summit. Our futures depend on it.

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world today. As global temperatures increase so do the associated risks of drought, forest fires, the melting of the polar ice caps, sea level rise and flooding. The consequential devastating impact on people around the world is obvious.

This year will be a critical one for efforts to keep global climate change below two degrees of warming. Two degrees of warming has long been accepted by economists, climate scientists and world governments as the level above which the risks associated with climate change become unacceptably high. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Paris at the end of this year are a massive opportunity to get Governments all over the world to agree to binding emission reduction targets.

This is a moment when politicians from all nations, including our own need to be ambitious about what we can achieve through international cooperation. Based on the pledges made by Governments so far, global warming would only be limited to around 3 degrees – insufficient to prevent catastrophic consequences.

We should all welcome the historic commitment by the G7, led by Germany to agree to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century but - let’s be clear - that is 85 years from now and the truth is we need to go faster.

That’s why our own domestic targets, enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2008, commit the UK to a minimum 80 per cent reduction of carbon emissions by 2050.

We need the UK Government to push for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years based clearly on the scientific evidence. We need to see net zero global emissions in the second half of this century alongside transparent and universal rules for measuring them which apply to all nations. It’s not enough to set targets when each country has totally different methods of accounting for their carbon emissions.

We also need a global deal that recognises the unique responsibilities of each nation. Richer countries that have played a far greater role in contributing to global emissions need to provide support to poorer nations to empower them to combat climate change and to deal with its consequences.

The debate about our national security over the last few months and years has been dominated by calls for two per cent of our GDP to be spent on defence. We’ve heard far less about the two degrees target we’re working towards at the Paris climate talks this year. We need to hear more.

If we fail to keep global climate change below two degrees then I fear the threats to our national security in future will dwarf those that we face today. We couldn’t, and we shouldn’t have to, justify to future generations why we failed to mitigate and adapt to climate change caused by human activity. Britain has a proud history of global climate leadership and we must rise to the occasion once again.

Maria Eagle MP is Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary. On Wednesday 10th June Labour used its first opposition day in the House of Commons of this parliament to debate climate change.

Maria Eagle is the shadow secretary of state for defence and Labour MP for Garston and Halewood

Show Hide image

Ariana and the Arianators: "We really are like a family"

The pop star provides her fans with a chance to express themselves joyfully - their targeting was grimly predictable.

Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May began like any other. Children and teenagers streamed through the doors wearing pink T-shirts, rubber wristbands and animal ears (one of Grande’s signature looks). They screamed when she came on stage and they sang along with every song. It was only once the music had ended, and the 20,000-strong audience began to leave the venue, that the horror began – with a bomb detonated at the main entrance.

The show was just one date on Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour, which began in Phoenix, Arizona in February, moved across the United States and Europe, and had stops scheduled for South America, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. (Since the Manchester attack, Grande has suspended the tour indefinitely.)

Since releasing her debut album in 2013, Grande has successfully transitioned from teen idol to fully fledged pop star (all three of her studio albums have sold over a million each) with a combination of baby-faced beauty and Mariah Carey-style, breathy vocals. Her most popular records are bubblegum pop with a Nineties R’n’B influence, a combination also expressed in her fashion choices: Nineties grunge meets pastel pinks.

She entered the limelight at 16 on the children’s TV programme Victorious, which ran on the Nickelodeon channel, pursuing her musical ambitions by performing the show’s soundtracks. Many of the young people who grew up watching her as the red-haired arts student Cat Valentine on Victorious would become fans of her pop career – or, as they call themselves, the Arianators.

As she outgrew her child-star status, Grande’s lyrics became more sexually suggestive. Recent songs such as “Side to Side” and “Everyday” are more explicit than any of her previous hits. She has repeatedly insisted that young women should be able to speak openly about sex and feel empowered, not objectified.

“Expressing sexuality in art is not an invitation for disrespect,” she tweeted in December. “We are not objects or prizes. We are QUEENS.”

Grande also has a reputation as something of a gay icon. She has advertised her records on the gay dating app Grindr, headlined shows at Pride Week in New York, and released a single and a lipstick to raise money for LGBTQ charities.

Cassy, a 19-year-old film student and fan, told me the fanbase is “made mostly of young women from 14-23, but I run into guys and non-binary fans all the time.”

“It’s pretty well known that Ariana has got a LGBTQ+ fan base. She’s so outspoken about it and that’s what draws us to her. Because she’s accepting of everyone, no matter who you are.”

Like many child actresses-turned-pop star, Grande has a fan base skewed towards the young and female: teenage and pre-teen girls are by far the majority of her most dedicated supporters. A writer on the Phoenix New Times described the typical Ariana Grande crowd as “pre-tween, tweens, teens, young gay (and fabulous) men, moms with cat ears, and multiple candidates for father of the year”. The Arianators form tight-knit groups on social media. I spoke to several over Twitter after the attack.

Arena concerts, which often have more relaxed age restrictions than nightlife venues, have long been a safe space for children, young people and teenage girls. They provide a secure place for concert-goers to dress up, experiment, play with burgeoning sexualities, dance, scream and cry: to flirt with an adult life still slightly out of reach. Glitter-streaked tears stream down the unapologetic faces of fans touched by an emotion bigger than themselves. It is appalling, if grimly predictable, to see children, teenage girls and young gay men targeted by agents of regressive ideologies for expressing themselves so joyfully. On 23 May, Isis claimed the attack.

Andréa, a 17-year-old fan from France, told me about her first experience of a Grande concert. “It was incredible,” she said. “Everyone was so kind, excited and happy. We really are like a family.”

The fans are devastated by Monday’s bombing. Thousands of messages appeared on social media to commemorate those who lost their lives. “As an Arianator,” Alexandre, aged 16, told me, “I’m really sad and I’m scared.”

“We’re all taking it really hard,” Cassy said. “We’re a family and we lost 22 members of that family last night.”

Ariana began her gig in Manchester with the song that has opened every night of her current tour: “Be Alright”. In it, she repeatedly reassures the crowd, “We’re gonna be all right.” It’s a phrase that her fans are clinging to after the attack. So, too, are the lyrics of “Better Days”, by Grande and her support act Victoria Monét, which was also performed the night of the explosion. “There’s a war right outside our window,” the words go. “I can hear the sirens . . ./I can hear the children crying . . ./I’m hoping for better days . . .”

“It’s hit us all very hard because we’ve lost some of our own,” said one Arianator who runs a popular Twitter account about the tour. “People we interacted with on a daily basis. People that just wanted to have a night of fun. These are dark times, but we are looking forward to better days.”

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

0800 7318496