29/11/2012 Statement ahead of the National Climate Change March – ‘Get Fractious’ – this Saturday (December 1st), from 12 noon, Grosvenor Square:
In recent days four people have died in floods around the UK, after the latest extreme weather event to hit these shores.
Of course they’re unpredictable – but these ‘once every hundred years’ floods seem to be happening every year now.
It’s not just recent flooding that should be making us sit up and think. We know this summer saw record melting of the Arctic – and it is now predicted that within two years there will be no Arctic ice left at all in summer.
Just last week, the European Environment Agency issued its latest assessment of the state of the continent’s climate.
Its report said that climate change is affecting all regions in Europe, causing a wide range of impacts on society and the environment. It said average temperature was rising, heat waves, heavy rainfall, droughts and floods were becoming more severe and happening more often, and that human health was suffering as a result. The floods, droughts and heat-waves in other parts of the world are having an even more devastating effect, especially in those less-developed nations with little ability to cope.
World leaders are gathering in Doha this week for the latest attempt to try to reach agreement on how we should co-operate internationally to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are fuelling this climate crisis in the first place. I wish them well, of course, but I won’t be holding my breath for an agreement which takes the radical action we need now.
But even worse, the oil companies – often with the assistance and acquiescence of governments around the world – are engaged in a mad dash to unearth yet more of the fossil fuel that has contributed so much to the problem in the first place.
We have seen the exploitation of the Canadian ‘Tar Sands’, and contentious ‘hydraulic fracturing’ (fracking) that have been used across the USA are beginning to be used in Europe – and even here in the UK.
Last week Euro-MPs called for a ban on the process in sensitive areas – and the proper enforcement of EU rules designed to protect our water quality from the toxic chemicals used.
This decision was welcome, of course, but doesn’t go far enough: there should be a complete ban on fracking, and proper investment in energy conservation measures and renewable production techniques instead.
That’s why it’s so important that we all join the national climate change march from the US embassy to the House of Commons on Saturday. We’ll be building a giant mock fracking rig in Parliament Square to make our message to MPs loud and clear: we need urgent action on climate change here in the UK, including investment in renewable energy generation, renewed efforts to reduce our energy needs through conservation, and an outright ban on fracking, and we need it now. Not just because we are already counting the tragic human cots of not doing so, but because it’s the will of the people.