• Climate Strike Leicester

2050: A Hollow Promise

The following is the speech delivered by Lucia Guzy-Kirkden at the June Climate Strike.

This month's strike occurs in the wake of what many herald as a big moment for our country.

On the 11th of June, Britain became the first G7 nation to legislate for net zero emissions, pledging to reach this target by 2050.

Surely, this is a victory for our movement. Isn't this the revolutionary change to our country that we have been fighting for?

No. 2050 is too late. 2050 is 20 years too late. The 12 years until climate change becomes irreversible will be gone. Our carbon neutrality will be of little consolation to the 200 million refugees fleeing floods and forest fires. Net zero by 2050 is a hollow promise.

If our government's intention really were to prevent the climate catastrophe, our target would be much sooner. The pledge would not be offset by paying off developing countries to foot parts of our carbon bill. Nor would it come with a get-out clause in five years time.

The real purpose of this pledge is a self-serving one. It stands to conceal our Prime Minister's failures by establishing her a legacy, and to pacify climate protestors with useless promises without upsetting the business owners who fund our Tory government.

If our government really wanted change, they would make it, now. They would bring forward the date to phase out petrol and diesel- fuelled vehicles, they would provide subsidies for insulation and green heating and electricity, they would move the billions of pounds invested in oil and gas companies to funding renewable suppliers and reforestation. The 2050 pledge does none of these things. It seems the only change our government wants is an end to climate protest.

For if we needed any more proof that this bill is a meaningless distraction, then it is in the fact that the Confederation of British Industry is squarely behind it. When the oil and gas giants approve of climate action, we know something's gone wrong.

Because of our government's inaction, the UK remains a culpable nation. Our crisis cannot be solved by individual sacrifices alone; we need our government to intervene effectively on our behalves with truly radical policies. We need our government to take responsibility for UK emissions rather than pushing our share of the burden onto developing nations and continuing to cosy up to big business.

Some argue that we shouldn't blame the UK when worse offenders remain at large. China and the US are the greatest carbon contributors in the world, pumping out 23% and 15% of global emissions. And their emissions are not falling quickly enough.

But their guilt should not be our excuse. We must promote international action, yes, but this change begins within our country. Our actions can set a global example; we can encourage our European neighbours to make meaningful change, and we can support developing nations to follow suit. It is critical that we inspire and facilitate the green development of our world. Feeble policies like net zero by 2050 are not enough. If we are to counter the climate crisis; if we are to make the world change, to commit to solving the climate crisis not only in words but in acts, then our country must change first.

So we must continue to lobby our government. We cannot be made idle by their fatuous falsehoods. Maybe we cannot change the world by recycling and switching off our bedroom lights, but we can force change by taking it to the real culprits. And if we do not, then we remain just as guilty as them.

The reality is that now we must fight even harder. For this pledge threatens to lull the British public even further into inaction. And this we cannot allow, or all the work we have done, with our strikes and our speeches, to sting the public to action, will be undone.

It is our duty to tell our government that we will not accept their short-sighted, expedient policies. We must alert them to their position of global responsibility. 2050 is too late. We must force them to act and act now.

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