Labour leader urges emissions cuts and boost for renewables in ‘green industrial revolution’
— Jeremy Corbyn will urge MPs to take on their “historic duty” over climate change and back a Labour motion calling for the UK to declare a national environmental and climate-change emergency.
Speaking in the wake of climate strikes by young people and the wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the Labour leader will open an opposition day debate on Wednesday by also seeking a so-called green industrial revolution to transform the economy.
“Today this house must declare an environment and climate emergency,” he will say, according to extracts of the speech released in advance.
“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.”
The Labour motion would officially declare an environment and climate emergency, and pledge a response of “commensurate urgency”, including more rapid action to reduce climate emissions, a boost for renewable and low-impact transport and energy, and wider efforts to create a greener economy.
With the issue in the public consciousness following the protests, and last week’s visit to parliament by the teenage Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, who Corbyn met, there will be pressure for Conservative MPs to support the motion, or at least outline alternative plans.
The environment secretary Michael Gove, who also saw Thunberg and met an Extinction Rebellion delegation on Tuesday, will respond for the government.
Corbyn will argue that urgent action is needed in response to the justified concerns of young activists.
“I was deeply moved a few weeks ago to see the streets outside this parliament filled with colour and noise by children on strike from school chanting, ‘Our planet, our future’,” he will say.
“For someone of my generation, it was inspiring but also humbling that children felt they had to leave school to teach the adults a lesson. The truth is, they are ahead of the politicians on this, the most important issue of our times.”
Describing Extinction Rebellion, whose activists blocked streets and bridges around London for days, as “a massive and necessary wake-up call”, Corbyn said: “Today, we have the opportunity to say: ‘We hear you.’
“Parliament rarely leads change, it usually drags its feet. Think about the huge transformations to our society: workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights.
“The impetus has always come from outside, from social movements and communities, while Westminster is often the last place to understand it. Let’s not repeat that pattern. Let’s respond to the younger generation, who are raising the alarm.
“By declaring a climate emergency, we could set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the world. It’s a chance that won’t be available to succeeding generations. It is our historic duty to take it,” he will say.
The Labour leader will also call for significant investment in new technologies and green industries: “The hidden hand of the market is not going to save us. Technological solutions are not going to magically appear out of nowhere.
“An emergency of this magnitude requires large-scale government intervention to kickstart industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future.
“The solution to the crisis is reprogramming our whole economy so that it works in the interests of both people and the planet. This is not a time for despair. It is a time for action.”
by Peter Walker | The Guardian