This Easter saw 1000 arrests of the XR rebellion protesters in London. Greta Thunberg travelled by train from her home in Sweden to speak at the rebellion’s ‘People’s Assembly’ in Marble Arch. Following her lone strike outside the Swedish Parliament, Greta sparked the million strong, Youth Strike for Climate Justice global movement and at Davos last year she criticised the inaction of the world’s politicians “I want you to panic like your house is on fire, because it is”. So whilst in England Greta met with Party leaders including Jeremy Corbyn to urge them to panic. Labour has been showing its support for the Youth Strikes and now, following the Rebellion’s Easter demonstrations, Jeremy Corbyn has spoken about the massive and necessary wake-up call for action.
So, Labour will be taking action this week. We need to wake up to the threat and act with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero before 2050. The news is that on Wednesday Labour will force a vote to in Parliament to make the UK the world’s first country to declare a climate emergency. “…..we will have the chance to be the first in the world to declare an environment and climate emergency, which we hope will trigger a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the world.” (Jeremy Corbyn).
The Tories are failing us on the environment. A major issue for Eastbourne is Clean Air. Confidential documents have been leaked that show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects. Ministers have been sitting on funding that should be used to clean up toxic fumes from our major roads and motorways.
Millions* of people in England are living in areas that breach legal air quality limits, 700 people in the UK die every week from diseases related to air pollution, 20 times the number of deaths in road accidents. In Eastbourne that translates to 61 people a year dying from particulate air pollution – according to Public Health England.
“The Tories have completely failed to tackle the problem of air pollution across the country. “Despite losing repeatedly in the courts on this issue, they continue to dodge responsibility, leaving millions of people living in areas of illegally high levels of pollution” (Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman)
Labour has promised a new Clean Air Act – including a network of clean airzones – to get a grip on the illegal levels of pollution across the country.
Watch out for LOCAL ACTIONS.
1) Eastbourne youth and children have been supporting the Youth Strike 4Climate Justice. The next strike is planned for 24th May. Details to be announced.
2) Clean Air Day is on 20th June. Watch out for actions across Eastbourne. Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth are coordinating.
3) Climate Emergency Council Motion. 17th July. From 5.30pm Town Hall. Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth are coordinating.
*Labour analysis published in December 2018 – 33 million people in England lived in areas which breached legal air quality limits in 2016.