When it comes to saving the planet, whose shoulders should the responsibility be placed upon? Mine, yours, the politicians, the world leaders?
ONE OF the most frustrating topics surrounding climate change is that if earlier action had been taken it could have been prevented. Every passing year, the emissions cuts needed to limit global warming to relatively safe levels grow steeper and steeper. Many groups have been accused of being to blame for this ongoing lack of action, from fossil fuel companies and wealthy countries, to politicians, rich people and sometimes even all of us.
Spotlight reporter Nicole Ruxton-Payne spoke to Edward Gildea, who is involved with multiple activist groups and movements such as Extinction Rebellion and Reclaim the Power. He is also leading the Ring out for Climate Change campaign which takes place on October 30.
Edward, a former head teacher with 25 years teaching experience, said: “The responsibility is not the schools and the responsibility is not with the next generation. The responsibility is with today’s politicians, and it is absolutely with the politicians who are going to meet in Glasgow next month.
“The younger generation are going to be suffering the problem, and that is appalling. It is for the older generation to start doing the courageous things we should have done thirty years ago.”
The UN climate negotiations (COP26) is scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November 2021. The annual climate conference is the main forum for negotiations on global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. However, many criticisms have arisen from this conference. Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is quoted as saying: “Nothing has changed from previous years really. The leaders will say ‘we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and we will put our forces together and achieve this’, and then they will do nothing.”
The recent movements from activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, such as the motorway protests, have raised mixed reactions from the public and created controversy.
When asked if these movements were the right way of promoting the message and dangers of climate change, Edward explained:
“You’ve got to think ethically and then strategically. Ethically, is that sort of action justified? You have to think what was your reaction to the suffragette movement? Did you denigrate that movement and think they were all appalling? Those women decided after everything that there was no legal way open to them left. What do you do when you know the law is unjust, or the law is corrupt? Humanity is being put in dire danger.”
Edward also spoke out on the total respect he has for Extinction Rebellion: “They have no selfish motive whatsoever. They have nothing to gain, other than the chance that
their children might have a chance of surviving on this planet, and that’s their motivation.”
These activist groups have certainly grabbed the media’s attention; they have woken up the public to the government’s failing record to insulate homes. By 2016 the proposal that all homes should be zero carbon, but this was rescinded by the government in 2015. The home insulation grant for those suffering fuel poverty has been reduced to almost zero.
“We’ve made no progress, so these movements are just exposing the negligence by this government,” Edward continued.
“I don’t blame the people and I don’t blame the younger generation. I do blame the media, I do blame the fossil fuel companies and I do blame the politicians, because there has been a successful conspiracy around the whole thing.”
Edward is asking churches to ring their bells at 6pm for 30 minutes on October 30, as a warning for the climate emergency and to mark the start of the conference.
“I was inspired by several things including Clap for Carers during the pandemic and, the historic uses of church bells. Ringing church bells as a warning for people in this country at times of national crisis is well known – with bells for the Spanish Armada right through to the Second World War.”
“The climate crisis is not just a national problem but a global one. I thought ringing the bells for climate would be a way to wake people up, in every part of the country, to the urgency of the crisis we face ahead of COP.”
Main Photo: Edward Gildea planting snowdrops