Thursday 28 February 2019

As Governments Fail to Act on Climate Change – The People Step Up to the Plate

I must admit that the last couple of years, I’ve gone from despair to depression (not clinical) with the complete lack of urgency from governments around the world, in taking serious action to combat climate change. As the evidence mounts that we have only a few short years to take action, which would give human beings a fighting chance of avoiding cataclysmic change to our planet, nothing much is done.

The failure of more than twenty years of international governmental conferences, to do more than promise to makes cuts in CO2 emissions, and with an over reliance on techno-fixes, most of which do not exist on any large scale, has led me to think that we really are going to hell in a hand-cart. 

But, amidst all of the gloom, some bright shining lights have suddenly given me hope. This has not come from governments though, it is a rising from below, from the people, that offers reasons to believe that things may change for the better.

The Extinction Rebellion, which began in the UK last year, but is now spreading to many countries around the world, is an attempt to pressure the authorities into actually taking the situation seriously, by taking direct action, like blocking roads and other similar protests, for which these people are prepared to be arrested for. Their aim is to:

Support and encourage a citizens uprising in the UK (of about 2 million people) involving low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some (with others willing to support those that take actions). When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution. This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.

Then there is Earth Strike who are calling for a rolling series of events throughout 2019, culminating in a worldwide strike on 27 September. They describe what they are about thus:

We are a grassroots movement demanding immediate climate action from governments and corporations worldwide...Our protests, scheduled throughout 2019, will raise awareness for a GLOBAL GENERAL STRIKE beginning September 27.

Earth Strike has chapters in 22 countries, from Australia to the United States, with new countries coming on board all of the time. They say:

Until the world’s governments and businesses are held accountable to the people, we are refusing to participate in the system that fills their pockets. There will be no banking, no offices full of employees, no schools full of children, until our demands are met.

Most recently, school students have organised strikes from their studies, who of course have more to lose, again to demand action from the politicians on climate change. This was all started by a Swedish sixteen year old, Greta Thunberg, who held a one person demonstration outside of her parliament in Stockholm. 

Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide. In London, they blocked the roads outside parliament chanting “Turn off your engines” at passing cars, and “We want the chance for change now” before mounted police moved them away.

All of this is what needs to happen, because, as we have seen, governments are being negligent in their responsibility to protect their people from what is looking like a disaster of huge proportions. Change needs to come from the grassroots to force this issue up the political and economic agenda. 

Politicians only change course from business as usual, when they are compelled into doing so by the people, and so I hope these movements grow into a powerful force for change,

Do what you can to support them.

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