Cri­sis won’t be solved by warm words

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION -

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

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