Today, I was one of the 6,000 people who shut five bridges in London protesting government inaction on climate change.
The movement is Extinction Rebellion; the demands it makes of the UK government are as follows:
- That it declare a state of climate emergency,
- That it take action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025, and
- That it create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.
Of course, the merits of these demands can be debated. But more important is the demand of this movement that climate change be regarded as a crisis which merits a place at the top of the political agenda.
In this light, the critique of today’s BBC News Coverage is interesting. It questions whether the UK government is the right target considering that,
The UK is in the leading pack of nations in cutting the CO2 emissions that are over-heating the planet. The Climate Change Act locks Britain into reducing greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, based on 1990 levels.
What I see in this analysis is a fundamental difference in perspective on the imminence and severity of climate breakdown.
Like the other protesters today, I see what is happening as a very real, very present existential threat, which will have far-reaching, catastrophic impacts. On this basis, the timelines of the UK government are insufficient.
This is why I am campaigning:
The recent IPCC report cautioned that if we are to stick below the 1.5 degrees heat increase agreed internationally in the Paris Agreement, our global emissions must peak in 2020.
At present, we have a 1 in 100 chance of limiting heat increase to 1.5 degrees and a 1 in 20 chance of limiting it to 2 degrees (source).
This government is (among other things) pushing fracking, giving further tax breaks to the North Sea oil and gas industry, and cutting green technology incentives. It is doing this despite government-funded research rating “increasing disruption and cost of climate change” as having the lowest uncertainty and the second or third highest impact of all future risks (source).
I understand this as a threat to life which I am complicit in. My conscience and reasoning conclude that a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience is a moral and proportionate response.
Today protesters sung “another world is possible/ and we know how“. I believe we have important choices to make about our future, and I believe we must take responsibility for our part in how these choices will be made.
I therefore call on you too to join Extinction Rebellion.