Crisis won’t be solved by warm words
LAST Friday, Cheltenham was part of a huge global movement. Hundreds marched from St Paul’s to the Municipal Offices to call for more action on the climate emergency.
Thanks to the inspiring actions of people like Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, it’s an issue at the front of public consciousness. There is widespread acknowledgement that a failure to act now risks not just the wellbeing and prosperity of humankind but the lives of every living creature on the planet.
So it’s only right that the world sits up and takes notice of those who left their schools and workplaces to protest.
As the person whose call for action sparked the declaration of the climate emergency in Cheltenham, I was asked to speak. I was alongside borough council leader Steve Jordan, MP Alex Chalk and others, including Yolande Booyse – the event organiser.
Cheltenham’s climate emergency declaration means that there will soon be news on how the borough will set a new standard of action on the climate. We cannot be limited in our ambitions, so we’ll need to go further than just planting a few trees here and there. But we also need the Government to act, too. Because for too long our politicians in Westminster have either paid lip service to environmental policy or (even worse) said one thing and done the opposite.
Many of the MPS who now claim to be paid-up members of the environmental movement have voted in recent years to slash support for renewable energy, pursue damaging policies like fracking and harm investment in green technologies. However, heightened awareness of the issue and successful campaigns have led politicians to change course. The debate now is much more enlightened. But if we are to win the battle against the climate emergency, we’ll need more than just warm words.
The voices calling for change are as clear as the scientific evidence. The message is clear, too: we all must work together to tackle the climate emergency. We face an existential threat and people demand an appropriate response. Councillor Max Wilkinson Oakley