The South West joins mass action on climate emergency

Further to the piece on 3 March by Tom Scott on Katharine Lewis and the Helston Climate Action Group, Rosie Haworth-Booth from North Devon alerts us to a cross country drive this weekend on bringing a crucial private member’s bill to greater public attention.

People living in the UK don’t need to look far to find victims of freak flooding in their towns and villages, or unprecedented wildfires on moorland, local manifestations of far worse happening across the world. Floods, droughts, storms and the ensuing famine and homelessness can’t be wished away. Predictive maps of water level rises by the end of this century show literal devastation.

When we left the EU, Government drew up the Environment Bill, intended to address the gap in policy left by our withdrawal, on issues such as agricultural run-off, what to do with waste, particulate pollution, and so on. But this bill does not address some of the most crucial issues which are affecting and will continue to affect our life support systems, because ‘environment’ has been siloed off from climate change -the latter barely gets a look in. 

In July and December 2020 Government issued press releases on their ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, together (in December) with numerous endorsements for their plans from big business, like Sky, Tesco, BT and National Grid. But these endorsements did not refer to a legally binding Bill, instead they referred to ‘ambition’ and, in addition, government have not shifted their ambition from zero emissions by 2050 “if at all possible” to zero emissions by 2030.

Spokesperson for one of the cross-party CEE Bill Action Groups, Rosie Haworth-Booth, from North Devon, said “The government’s own published ‘ambitions’ and ‘targets’ look very much like an attempt to quash any cross-party support for the private member’s Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, proposed in September 2020. In contrast to the government’s mere ‘ambitions’, it sets out legally binding targets and doesn’t depend on yet-to-be invented technologies as the government worryingly does.

“We can’t help wondering what the government have against the CEE Bill – unless it’s the fact that they’re still in hock to fossil fuel production and all that goes with it. Already 100 MPs from across the House are supporting the CEE Bill and councils across the country, including Devon County Council’s own cabinet, are also supporting it.

This weekend members of our Action Group, in sync with actions across the country, have staged a banner drop and other visual events, such as a lovingly decorated tree in Barnstaple’s Strand  and other art installations at Bideford Quay and Torrington Commons. They aim to raise public awareness of this vital proposal to encourage their MPs to support it.

MPs in any governing party conventionally oppose private member’s bills, claiming them as weak or ineffective. But in fact, some of the most humane changes in law have started off as private members bills, such as the Abolition of the Death Penalty, The Abortion Act, the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality and the Climate Change Act of 2008. However, the latter is in desperate need of updating. Climate Disaster will be hugely impactful on all of us if we don’t act very fast. To find out more join the alliance at