Happy May Day Bank holiday dear readers and rebels. As well as being the traditional festival of Spring and International worker’s day, this year’s May Day marks two years since the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency. Last week the Government announced it would cut the UK’s greenhouse emissions by a whopping 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, finally including aviation and shipping in their emissions calculations. Such an announcement was to be expected in the run up to the COP26 climate talks. As the Country hosting the talks, Boris Johnson knows there is international expectation for the UK to show leadership on climate change. However, the Government has a shocking track record of all talk and no action when it comes to its climate commitments.
The Path to climate disaster is pathed with policy pledges
At the end of 2020 Boris Johnson declared the Government would “build back greener” after the pandemic. Yet ‘ministers have failed to bring forward an ambitious green recovery, passing up three major fiscal events to do so’. (1) Meanwhile, the latest progress report by The committee on Climate Change (CCC) showed the UK Government had failed on 17 of its 21 progress indicators, falling further behind in many cases.(2) While analysis by the conservation charity RSPB showed the UK has failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets. The charity said, “the gap between rhetoric and reality has resulted in a lost decade for nature”. (3)
The plan to build a new coal mine in Cumbria is still under review, thwarted only by an intervention by the Biden administration. (4) The Government presided over the total shambles of a £2bn “green homes” scheme which was closed after six months, (5) even though energy use in homes accounts for about 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions.
This could have been a golden opportunity for a new green paradigm.
Last year saw a dramatic drop in global emissions due to the pandemic. Carbon dioxide emissions fell by 7%, the biggest drop ever, as countries around the world imposed lockdowns and restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (6) The United Nations highlighted the 7% emissions reduction witnessed during the height of the pandemic is what is required every year for the next decade to stay within the 1.5 limit set by the Paris agreement. Instead this year sees emissions set to soar (7) as Governments clamber to recover their economies post lockdown. The build back greener recovery we were promised exists nowhere except in soundbites and hyperbole.
Hope lies in ordinary people doing the right thing
In February this year the Chief executive of the Environment agency warned that the UK was already experiencing “worst case scenario” levels that if left unchecked will lead to the collapse of ecosystems with dire consequences for humanity (8) There is no doubt that our leaders cannot be trusted with this mammoth task, it is up to us, the people, it always has been. History has taught us that nothing happens unless we demand it, this time is no different. The Government are fully aware of this, and continue to flex their might in the form of the new police, crime and commissioning Bill, A vulgar attempt to weaponise the police against ordinary people with legitimate concerns. (9). In fact what this Bill has achieved is to unify social and political groups in opposition to its draconian measures.
“We have a unique opportunity to move from being divided by our focus on different symptoms to being united by those symptoms shared cause” (10)
May 1st is a historic day of protest all around the world. This year it marks the beginning of a new wave of protests as disparate groups join together in solidarity. Let’s make our voices heard. Hope lies in ordinary people doing the right thing.
Join Extinction Rebellion Today
#KilltheBill demonstrations in Victoria Square May 1st from 2pm