Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has again reiterated his support for the government adopting a national climate emergency ahead of today’s vote on the issue. The move comes as Extinction Rebellion activists have stated their disappointment at their meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
Corbyn, who met with Extinction Rebellion yesterday alongside the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, has committed to engaging with the group and will use today’s debate to back calls for the declaration of a national climate emergency.
The Labour leader has said that the issue is the biggest challenge facing humanity in the modern era, one that is beginning to spiral out of control.
“We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now. Young people know this. I was deeply moved a few weeks ago to see the streets outside this parliament filled with colour and noise by children on strike from school chanting ‘our planet, our future’. For someone of my generation, it was inspiring but also humbling that children felt they had to leave school to teach the adults a lesson. The truth is they are ahead of the politicians on this, the most important issue of our times.”Jeremy Corbyn
Labour hopes that Britain will lead the way on the issue and that the Conservative government taking positive steps toward acknowledging the scale of the problem could lead to a worldwide domino effect with other nations making similar pledges.
Corbyn will also be calling for a “green industrial revolution” in order to combat the effects of climate change while at the same time bringing new industries and jobs into deprived communities where traditional manufacturing and industry has declined such as in the north.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen. For all the dismissive and defensive column inches the protests have provoked, they are a massive and necessary wake up call. Today, we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you’. An emergency of this magnitude requires large-scale government intervention to kickstart industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future. The solution to the crisis is reprogramming our whole economy so that it works in the interests of both people and the planet. This is not a time for despair. It is a time for action.”Jeremy Corbyn
Gove Mildly Less Shit Than Expected
While Extinction Rebellion was said to have been enthused with their meeting yesterday with Labour, John McDonnell pledging to ensure that Extinction Rebellion will have the opportunity to present its case to the whole shadow cabinet, the same cannot be said of their meeting with Michael Gove.
In an example of how much resistance the call for a national climate emergency is facing, activists said that Gove is guilty of “moral and political failure” as he refused to back the call for a climate emergency.
Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion is quoted as saying that meeting Gove was “less shit than I thought it would be, but only mildly”.
Meeting with five members of the group, Gove rejected the use of direct action to highlight the dangers of climate change and no way forward emerged, activists proclaiming that a sense of urgency was nowhere to be found.
Later today Extinction Rebellion will join forces with Momentum for a protest in Parliament Square. The rally will coincide with a vote on Britain declaring a national climate emergency, the vote having been forced by Labour. The two groups will be joined by youth climate strikers to call on the Conservative government to back the emergency call.