After a wave of youth protests, petitions and civil disobedience in the UK, parliament has become the first government in the world to declare an environmental and climate emergency. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on MPs to acknowledge the “devastating impact” climate change will have on every aspect of life. The motion has only been agreed by parliament so far, and so there are no legally binding obligations.
Suggestions for policies that can be implemented vary, but topics discussed include: banning all new oil and gas production (including fracking), introducing Frequent Flyer tax, and to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Despite the declaration of a climate emergency is not yet accompanied by an agenda for action, the UK government aims to send a signal to the rest of the EU and the world.
Corbyn pledges to “work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe”. While policy has increased around the world, many of those involved in the issue say it’s not enough and there must be more official recognition of the severity of the situation. Many hope the announcment breaks the ice and opens the door for other countries to follow suite.
The result of this motion also illustrates the impact well-organised activism can have. With Extinction Rebellion, London has recently become an epicentre for the climate change movement, and after significant public pressure the London Mayor, MPs and numerous local councils have all taken meetings with representitives from each movement. Oxford has agreed to start citizen assemblies to better flush out solutions to the issue. This success could lead to a significantly revamped push for civil disobiendence and activism in attempt to pressure government in taking action.