I have written about events at yesterday’s meeting of Shropshire Council, including the walkout by Tory councillors who could not stomach listening to an Extinction Rebellion protest. That’s ironic. The Tories walked out because they did not want to listen to a protest about the climate emergency. They were more concerned with getting on with the business of building motorways in Shropshire.
The Conservative walkout was just ahead of the protests by millions of people around the world today at the lack of progress by our politicians on tackling the climate emergency. Many, but not all, politicians accept the threat of climate change. They just don’t understand the word emergency. Shropshire Council is a microcosm of the world’s approach to climate change. Do as little as possible as late as possible.
Richard Davies from Shrewsbury Extinction Rebellion was thrown out of the council meeting by the speaker who asked members to: “Treat [these people] with the contempt they deserve.” The Tories had a fixed look of contempt as they left.
Today Richard has provided a copy of his intended statement. You can read it below. I hope all members of Shropshire Council and town and parish councillors read it.
Words for In Loving Memory of our Planet, Shrewsbury, Thursday 19th September 2019
We are Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury – a group of people who have come together to tell the truth about the ecological crisis we all face. And today to mourn the loss that the climate emergency is creating.
Thank you to all of you for coming & for listening to what we have to say.
My name is Richard and I’d like to say good morning to you all.
This morning the news is full of stories about climate change. Greta Thunberg is in America addressing the politicians.
Next week the UN Climate Action Summit begins in the USA.
And a new survey was published this morning. 74% of UK citizens agree that the world faces a climate emergency & that global warming will soon become extremely dangerous without a big cut in emissions. Leaders take note. 74%.
And when the news isn’t about Greta & overwhelming public concern it’s about plummeting insect numbers & imminent ecological collapse, it’s about air pollution hurting our most vulnerable, coral reefs dying, the jet stream going a bit strange, the relentless melting of the permafrost, huge rainforest destruction, heartbreaking habitat loss and species extinction, soil erosion, water depletion and of course plastics clogging up our oceans.
So we are here to mourn the loss of some of the world’s greatest living wonders such as coral reefs & monarch butterflies. And with every increment of global heating, with every rise in material resource consumption, we will have to accept even greater loss.
Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the patterns of winds & currents, pollinators, biological abundance & diversity – need fail for everything to slide.
So today we need courage and not just hope.
Courage is the hope to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.
And we are here to tell the truth.
To nurture and love the things that must happen to allow rapid positive change to happen.
To live by the precautionary principle, which says when there’s a huge risk you take action even if you’re not entirely sure what might happen.
And we are here to highlight that national and local Governments are not doing enough.
To be honest it’s not just about the quantity of what Government is doing. Government is actually doing stuff that is making the climate crisis worse.
Shropshire Council is spending £71 million on an irresponsible road.
The Council’s pension fund has more than one quarter of a billion pounds of assets invested with Blackrock – an asset manager with significant investments in fossil fuel companies who have been criticised for not taking a stand on climate change.
We want people to invest in Shropshire not because a few miles of the A5 have been upgraded to a motorway by changing the road signs from green to blue.
We want people to invest in Shropshire because smart leaders within our community realise that there is no economy on a dead planet. That those leaders realise that Shropshire is blessed with all of the resources – natural, human, financial, technological – to lead & deliver transformative climate action.
That those leaders have an understanding of the science of climate change & can see what needs to be done.
What needs to be done to our buildings, to our infrastructure, to our transport system, to our economy.
We hope that they understand that getting to net zero carbon emissions isn’t a problem, but a very significant opportunity. Take a look at what our nearest neighbours to the south are doing. Let’s not get left behind.
I’d love it if Shropshire could be the birthplace of the new green industrial revolution. Some 14 years ago in 2005 Shropshire Council was awarded the prestigious Beacon Council status for Sustainable Energy. Shropshire Council was one of a small group of forward thinking local authorities courageously embracing climate change & sustainable energy action. Let’s get back to this level of leadership & let’s take action on the Climate Emergency.
Albert Einstein said that the world is a dangerous place to live not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
So we are rebelling.
We are rebelling against business as usual
We are rebelling against sleepwalking to disaster.
We are rebelling against turning our back on the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.
We are rebelling against our own extinction and that of fellow life forms here on the beautiful place we call home – planet earth.
We offer our service to something bigger than ourselves – to our community, to other humans and living beings around the world.
To people not yet born. We will act with honour, duty and responsibility.
To be worthy ancestors.
To live a meaningful life.
So let’s spend today mourning our loss, & let tomorrow be about creating a new sustainable world through transformative climate action. As Greta Thunberg said ‘I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire.’