Fri, May 03, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Britain declares symbolic climate change emergency

Reuters, LONDON

Britain’s parliament on Wednesday declared a symbolic climate change “emergency,” backing a call by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for “rapid and dramatic action” to protect the environment for generations to come.

The measure was passed as an opposition motion, using a procedure typically ignored by the ruling party, and has no direct consequences for policy.

Yet it is a nod to an increasing vocal activist movement particularly among young people in Europe, who have staged school strikes and civil disobedience campaigns to demand action.

Eleven days of protests by the Extinction Rebellion activist group caused major disruptions in central London over the past few weeks, and Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, 16, addressed lawmakers on a high-profile visit.

Corbyn told lawmakers they should listen to those “who have the most to lose” from climate change, saying the younger generation is “ahead of the politicians on this, the most important issue of our time.”

“We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now,” Corbyn told parliament.

“Today, we have the opportunity to say: ‘We hear you’... By becoming the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency, we could, and I hope we do, set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments all around the world,” he said.

British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove, who met activists this week, disappointed the campaigners by avoiding the word “emergency” and referring instead to the situation as “grave.”

Extinction Rebellion welcomed Wednesday’s motion in a tweet: “This has seen [lawmakers] start to #TellTheTruth about the climate & ecological crisis. They must now halt biodiversity loss, go net #ZeroCarbon2025 & create a #CitizensAssembly.”

Separately, Thunberg tweeted: “Historic and very hopeful news. Now other nations must follow. And words must turn into immediate action.”

“The best time to declare a climate emergency was 30 years ago; the second best time is now,” Rebecca Newsom, head of Politics for Greenpeace UK, said in a statement.

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