Since our local Extinction Rebellion group was founded in April 2019 we have been demanding the Borough Council declare a climate and ecological emergency and take necessary action to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Today the full council finally debated this, and while opposition councillors gave passionate and persuasive speeches in favour of urgent and meaningful action, the leaders voted against it. The council leaders have failed in their duty to keep us safe. Everyone can see climate change is ravaging our planet, but our council voted against doing their part to prevent the worst from happening.
Even though the meeting was held online, we were still present (albeit virtually) and protested as we have been doing for many months. Some of us have continued to ask difficult questions of the council leaders to hold them accountable, while others continued our campaign of holding posters during the meeting. Our ‘distant but still present’ selfies have been sent to the councillors so they can see we are still pushing them to act.
So while the council has voted against meaningful action today, there is still hope. Just as all of us come to see the truth of this crisis, they too need to wake up to the urgency. We have a small window of opportunity left to act, we can’t afford to waste any more time. Our council needs to put the climate crisis at the top of its agenda, and they can be sure that none of us will rest until the council has taken the necessary action to ensure the safety of our borough, and our planet.
The Covid-19 tragedy has highlighted what happens when we’re not prepared for a crisis, when we ignore scientists/experts, and when we don’t take action soon enough. We need to be sure to learn those lessons. The global lockdown showed how we can take drastic measures when faced with a threat, but the lockdown only reduced global emissions by 17% so we need to move on from thinking personal sacrifices alone will save us. We need those in power to tackle the worst offenders and enact system change. Time is running out.