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most important UK election ever

Many a politician is claiming that this is the most important election for a generation. I'd go further: it's the most important UK election ever. Because the Government we elect tomorrow is the last which could still prevent catastrophic climate change causing the greatest humanitarian disaster of all time. To give ourselves even a 50/50 chance of not hitting two degrees - the point at which it's thought unstoppable runaway climate change will be triggered - we must stabilise global emissions by 2015 and then reduce them rapidly over the next few decades. So we have to turn around 150 years of ever-increasing-emissions within the timeframe of the next Parliament. And just to make it even more crucial, the UK has been one of the very few countries pushing internationally for a really strong new climate treaty, which is the only practical way of reducing global emissions - see this video from the final night of Copenhagen for details of Ed Miliband's 11th-hour interjection which prevented the whole talks from collapsing. And so it would greatly reduce the world's chances of securing the right deal if, at the Copenhagen follow-up meeting in Mexico this December, the UK is represented by a party whose candidates rank climate change as 19th out of 19 most important issues, which wants to decrease onshore wind and increase North Sea oil drilling and which is riddled with climate sceptics (with one even rumoured to be lurking in the shadow cabinet).

So come Friday morning, the Green government I'd like to see sweeping in to Downing Street is: Caroline Lucas as Prime Minister, Nick Stern as Chancellor, Tony Juniper as Home Secretary, George Monbiot as Chief of Staff, newly-defected Ed Miliband continuing as Minister for Climate Change and Gandhi as Foreign Secretary.

That's not looking highly likely, so what to do?

If we were to vote simply on emission reduction targets - which would be logical, as reducing emissions is the key thing we need to do - it would be a no-brainer. The Greens are going for 90% by 2030, compared to 40% by 2030 for the Lib Dems, 34% by 2020 for Labour and we don't know about the Tories as they didn't think it worth including in their manifesto. But last Friday, when I was arguing with Ed Miliband around the country in our "Climate Roadshow" (see video below), we met the former Labour MP for Milton Keynes, Brian White. Brian was an MP from 1992 to 2005, when he did loads of green things like kickstarting the Sustainable Energy Act 2003, setting various sustainable energy targets and finding £60m for renewable energy. Partly as a result of his work, green issues became more widely understood locally, and then in the 2005 election, 1,100 people voted Green, split the vote and the Tories nabbed his seat. Which meant that the net effect of voting Green was to get rid of one of the greenest MPs.

There are six similar seats (Battersea, Brighton Kemptown, Calder Valley, Colne Valley, Hove and Stroud) where the Green vote is large enough to give a Labour seat to the Tories and at least three (including Carshalton and Wallington, Dorset West and Torridge and West Devon) where it would either give a Lib Dem seat to the Tories or prevent the Lib Dems from taking one from them.
So I urge everyone who understands the precipice on which we all stand to be highly tactical with their vote:

-> If you live in a hope-in-hell constituency, vote Green. The impact of the first one or two Green MPs in to the House of Commons would be massive, though there's only four seats with a half-decent chance: Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion (now the bookies' favourite), Tony Juniper in Cambridge, Adrian Ramsay in Norwich South and Darren Johnson in Lewisham Deptford.

-> If you're in a Labour-Tory marginal, steel your environmentalist's heart and vote Labour rather than Green

-> If you're in a Lib Dem-Tory marginal, vote Lib Dem rather than Green

-> If you're in a Labour-Lib Dem marginal, vote for Labour, with an eye on helping stop Clegg siding with the Tories if there's a hung parliament. (Clegg said last week - whilst visiting a poppy factory, charmingly - that he'd be happy to work with the Tories as long as they concurred on four policies - fairer taxes, a shake-up of the education system and economic and political reform. Nothing else important, Nick?)

-> If you're in a safe seat for any of the three main parties - as I am in Holborn & St Pancras - vote Green to add one more to the Greens' total and strengthen the case for proportional representation next time.

In the wake of the Copenhagen flop, the climategate emails and the IPCC's glacier mistake, a huge amount of energy has gone out of the climate change movement. If only the same were true of the global climate system, we could all relax. But the inconvenient truth is that if we don't sort out climate change, it won't matter what happens with the economy or pensions or Trident or inheritance tax or all the other issues the leaders discussed in hours of television debate whilst almost completely ignoring the one thing for which history will remember them.