Extinction Rebellion out in force across Devon

© Chris Saville

In June the Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned all departments to prepare for ‘a minimum 2°C rise in global temperature with consideration of 4°C’.

The Paris Climate Agreement recognised 1.5°C as a desirable limit, and the CCC has advised that 4°C is the threshold of ‘extreme danger’.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (www.ceebill.uk) is written by legal, political and scientific experts, including a lead author of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report and aims to bring urgent action on the climate and ecological crisis into law.

The CEE Bill comes a year after the British parliament declared a climate emergency. If passed, it would substantially amend the Climate Change Act 2008, tightening the framework and accelerating the speed in which the UK has to act. Extinction Rebellion (XR) groups throughout UK last weekend were asking people to call on their MPs to support this bill so it becomes law.

Sally Chapman, of Christian Climate Action, said: “The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill can change our course, making the government act with the urgency we need and involving everyday people in a Citizens’ Assembly that has real bite.

‘If the CEE Bill is made law, the government would have to act fast, accounting for our entire carbon footprint while actively conserving nature here and overseas. We hope that this bill will set a precedent that can be replicated across the world.”

Sian Aubrey of Buckland Monachorum said: “Everyone can help by asking their MPs to insist that the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is debated in parliament and enacted into law. The Government is failing to do what is needed to keep us safe. They ignored the warnings about coronavirus [disease] and now they’re ignoring warnings of a 4˚C world from their official Committee on Climate Change.”

© Vanessa Miles

Banner drops, family actions, cleaning up banks and an event honouring children lost to climate change all took place over the bank holiday weekend. XR groups were on the streets, protesting government inaction on the climate crisis across the UK, and groups in Exeter, Plymouth, North Devon, Tavistock and Totnes all held local actions and events.

Banners were dropped in prominent locations across Devon, highlighting the urgency of action on climate change, calling for a cut to fossil fuel finance by government, and in support of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

Roger Spurr, of XR Exeter’s banner drop team, said: “In a few short years a runaway, unstoppable process will begin that will melt the ice caps and raise the sea level until it overwhelms the world’s major cities.”

The XR groups are concerned that already, with global average temperatures 1.1°C above pre-industrial average temperatures, extreme weather such as storms and droughts have become more frequent, including in the UK where people are still suffering due to flooding. In the last year alone, more than a billion creatures perished in the Australian bushfires, and exceptional fires also occurred in the Amazon, Siberia, Alaska, Indonesia and the Congo. The UK too, had more fires than any other year on record.

Sally Chapman continued: “We have experienced the hottest, driest May on record. We are getting so used to breaking weather records it is becoming normal. Latest analysis expects that this year’s reduction in carbon emissions will only be down by 6-8%. In order to keep global warming below the internationally agreed 1.5°C target we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year to 2050.”

A Devon local government pensioner and Devon’s Fridays for Future Youth Strikers stood outside Devon County Council handing in letters calling for the Pension Fund Committee to ensure that the Fund cease investing in the production and distribution of fossil fuels. Penelope Putz, 90, of Exeter Quaker Meeting, was among those handing in letters.

She has been asking for some time for her pension to be invested in a way that does no harm to her grandchildren, great grandchildren and descendants, and she is not giving up.

The letter from members of Fridays for Future was handed in by Jessie Nichols. It said: “In case you’ve forgotten who we are, we’re the bunch of rabble-rousing climate kids that used to come and protest outside the council on a Friday before the pandemic … . Whilst pension investments might not directly relate to us as young people, the harm that fossil fuel emissions cause to our planet should concern us all. The climate crisis is a global issue that is already having devastating effects, particularly upon the most disadvantaged communities. Right now, hundreds of thousands are flooded, starving, homeless, widowed, orphaned, and dead because of it.”

Emma Goodwin of St Leonards, an Environment Agency officer, said: “We need to decide together to prioritise care for each other, now and for the future. Saving lives from COVID-19 is pointless if we don’t also address the climate crisis. This has to mean that our banks invest in ways which support a liveable future.”

XR groups met in Exeter to honour the children already lost, those who will lose their lives in the months and years to come and those we choose not to have because of climate change and ecological breakdown. Ashburton-based Green Spirits, an environmental mime troupe, were in Teignmouth on Sunday morning and Paignton in the afternoon, with their giant ‘4 waves’ banner.

Sara Palmer of Horrabridge said: “Taking direct action is a last resort, we have tried everything else and the government just does not listen.”

Tuesday, 1st September, saw major XR action launched in Cardiff, Manchester and London, all of which is expected to last a week.

Laura White

Author: Laura White

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