Extinction Rebellion groups across Shropshire today issued a joint statement on the anniversary of Shropshire Council declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’.
One year ago, on 16 May 2019, members of Extinction Rebellion from across Shropshire demonstrated outside Shirehall as the climate emergency motion was debated by the council.
We were there because the world’s scientists had warned that humanity is hurtling towards an unprecedented catastrophe. We hoped that Shropshire Council would show leadership and declare an emergency for our county.
But, declaring a climate emergency is easy. The essential hard work comes afterwards.
Over the last year, Shropshire’s elected council has failed us. It has wasted twelve months on dither and delay. It continues to promote climate-wrecking infrastructure like the North West Relief Road, instead of investing in sustainable public transport. The county’s pension fund remains invested in fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell.
Where is the urgency in this emergency?
Despite the hard work of the council officers on the Climate Change Task Force, there has been no true emergency response from the elected politicians. The council has decided to focus on reducing its own corporate emissions instead of emissions across the county. This is a tiny fraction of what is needed.
The few positive changes the council has made – like committing to upgrade streetlights to energy saving LED alternatives – amount to little more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
The council’s own models show that emissions need to be reduced by 7.6% every single year to 2030 across the county to avoid climate chaos. That is a huge task. It will require more than changing a few light bulbs. It means the climate emergency response must be at the heart of everything in Shropshire from transport to house building and agriculture.
Meanwhile, the climate emergency continues to grow in scale. 2020 is predicted to be the hottest year on record and the UK is far off-course to meet its 2050 ‘net zero’ target. The recent Shropshire floods are a foretaste of the extreme weather events that are due to become the ‘new normal’ if we don’t act quickly.
Shropshire is one small piece of a bigger challenge. Of course we can’t solve a global crisis on our own. But we play our part… and benefit too. Shropshire was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. We could be the centre of green revolution, giving our economy an incredible boost and creating sustainable jobs for local people.
For that to happen, though, we need a council that is willing to show bold political leadership instead of being all talk and no action.
The recent lockdown has shown how much can change, and how quickly, when the world needs to respond to a crisis. As oil demand plummets and businesses see the possibilities of employees working from home, instead of making car journeys to offices, it’s clear that there is a real alternative to “business as usual”.
We just need to the courage to commit to it…
Shropshire’s Extinction Rebellion groups will continue to protest using non-violent direct action until we see the required change. We have no choice. The lives of our children and grandchildren are at stake.
- XR Bishop’s Castle & Clun
- XR Ludlow
- XR Oswestry
- XR Shrewsbury
- XR Telford
- XR Wenlock Edge