Rochdale Extinction Rebellion protests “criminal” government inaction
Date published: 30 June 2020
Extinction Rebellion Rochdale protesters at Tony Lloyd MP's office in Rochdale town centre
Extinction Rebellion Rochdale protesters gathered in Rochdale and Heywood at the offices of Tony Lloyd MP and Chris Clarkson MP to draw attention to government inaction on the crisis facing our planet, which they say is threatened by runaway global heating and mass extinctions within our lifetimes.
Protesters gathered at both offices on Thursday (25 June) with a letter, urging the MPs to speak out on the government’s failings on the climate and ecological emergency and come clean with constituents that government inaction will lead to the death of millions. Similar actions have taken place across the country, targeted at MPs of every political party.
Guy Otten, a retired lawyer from Littleborough, said: “We are facing a global crisis that is set to be far more deadly than Covid-19, and it’s already destroying livelihoods and taking lives across the world.
“Our recent floods show us that we can’t see this climate change as someone else’s problem. A target of 2050 is gambling with our lives and our future, and emissions are still increasing!”
Retired vicar, Reverend Mark Coleman added: “We’ve seen now that it is possible to take action in the face of a crisis. This is the right time for massive investment in green technologies in the north of England, and to use government support for industries that are doing the right thing - not bailing out businesses that are destroying our future.”
Extinction Rebellion has been asking for the Government not to miss the opportunity to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic and invest in green business.
The protest was timed to coincide with the publication of the Committee on Climate Change annual report to parliament which was published on Thursday 25 June.
Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the government listens to the latest scientific findings, which they say demonstrates that carbon emissions need to be reduced to zero much faster than the 2050 target to avoid dangerous global temperature rises.
Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale, responded: “I am more than supportive of local groups such as Extinction Rebellion Rochdale. Any meaningful attention to the climate emergency is welcome, and much needed. Extinction Rebellion’s efforts to build a broad coalition - locally, nationally, and internationally - to ensure that the urgent work required to save our planet is done without any further disastrous delays, is paramount.
“Whilst the coronavirus pandemic is dominating Government thinking, and it is of course incredibly important, it can never be an excuse to ignore climate change - which is a much greater threat to our existence. Experts have been telling us for years that we need to do more now. The timing could not be any more important, as the International Energy Agency has warned that we have just 6 months to change the course of the climate crisis. As Governments across the world are preparing to spend £7tn to rescue economies with stimulus packages, they must do so with climate change in mind, and not cause a post-lockdown to rebound in greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Committee on Climate Change is urging the Government to seize this opportunity to turn the Covid-19 crisis into a defining moment in the fight against climate change. They must enact policies to drive deep decarbonisation across the whole economy, starting with a 'back to work budget' that locks in a green recovery whilst protecting and creating jobs.
“Studies show that climate change is likely to intensify infectious disease outbreaks, therefore, by tackling the climate emergency, our Government can simultaneously save the economy, jobs, and our health.
“Pre-coronavirus, I held a meeting with students from high schools across Rochdale. It was inspiring to see young people enthusiastic for practical change, and I look forward to meeting with them again, later in the year. I am also organising a (virtual) meeting with members of Extinction Rebellion Rochdale, who delivered this important letter to me. We’ve got to build the consensus and the time for change is now.”
Chris Clarkson, MP for Heywood and Middleton, said: “On Thursday morning three activists visited my office in Heywood, pinned up posters and a letter and took some publicity photos. We were aware that this would be happening, and the action taken by activists was peaceful. It is a British tradition and a vital part of our democracy that everyone has the right to peaceful protest and acknowledge the right of these individuals to share their views with me. However, I am left wondering if an email might not have had less environmental impact than the plastic-coated paper that they stuck to my door.
“Current events are giving us a new outlook. For example, now that we have left the EU, we have an historic opportunity to deliver a green Brexit, where environmental standards are enhanced. I will be supporting the Government to develop global gold standard environmental policies, making us the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
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