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Opinion

If Keir Starmer wants to beat the climate deniers, he should warn them about beer

Climate change will push beer quality down and costs up. Could the threat of expensive booze help turn climate sceptics around?

Been warm, hasn’t it. Bit mild. Sunny for October. Sure you don’t know what to wear!

It’s been so unseasonal that supermarkets have seen sluggish sales for early Christmas fare. Analysts Kantar report that puddings and seasonal biscuits have not been doing the business. It was still time for burgers and dips. (That said, I can identify one keen Big Issue staffer who proudly had a chocolate Santa this week).

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Although we are still in the ‘shoppers fume at Christmas stock on shelves’ headline window, the clock is ticking. It is getting to that time when everything is anchored to Christmas. And so much of livelihoods, particularly in retail, in hospitality and in sofa manufacturing is built around the Christmas boost. We’re just a month from the start of Big Issue’s big Christmas run, a vital period for our vendors.

By now, we should be knee-deep in dry leaves and rolling out the big coat. So, it becomes harder and harder to argue with climate change when t-shirts are still on.

However, the behavioural change to make us truly adapt is not yet set in. While we KNOW it’s bad, we can see the reality, but who doesn’t like a bit of sun on the face?

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The kind of change needed has to come from major governmental intervention. All of society has to move.

While Sunak’s administration was keen to distract from this by being very, very VERY hard on smoking, Starmer is at least showing that he takes things seriously, placing, he says, climate action at the heart of his economic vision for the nation. He’s making it about green futures – going big on investment in renewable energy – and also selling it as a consumer win.

“Clean British energy is cheaper than foreign fossil fuels. That means cheaper bills for every family in the country,” he said.

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It’s a refreshing change from the sneaking language that increasingly smacks down any positive change as woke ideology or, worse, some kind of cultural Marxism here to destroy western society.

While Starmer may move things in a good way, if elected, the conspiracy rot runs deep and it will not be straightforward to change some minds.

However, there is a curious lever he can pull – beer. Climate change will push beer quality down and costs up. Researchers last week warned that climate breakdown will lead to European hop harvests diminishing by up to 18% by 2050. This will also change the alpha acids in the hop (apparently), which provide the taste, dropping by up to a third. In a generation or so beer, which is the world’s third most popular drink after tea and water, will be a more expensive and unpleasant thing. THAT’S how to sell the climate message. Fix things now, or you’ll taste it.

Every politician knows the value of keeping beer flowing. There are votes in it. No chancellor’s budget statement is complete without them gleefully roaring that they have kept down the duty on a pint. That will be moot in future.

If Keir Starmer needs any other key policy advice, he knows where to find me.

Also, whatever the whether in late November, get ready for our Big Issue Christmas series of magazines. There are some treats ahead. You can toast that, hops or not.

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