Britain: Unions, environment, healthcare groups to join major Extinction Rebellion protest

March 26, 2023
The protest planned for April, is supported by trade unions, health and environmental groups. Photo: Wikipedia

Climate and ecological disasters are raging, while the "cost-of-living", energy and social justice crises are worsening. At the same time — and closely connected to all these crises — fossil fuel companies continue to post record profits. They are aided and abetted by this corrupt Tory government, which gives them massive tax relief and subsidies from public funds that should instead be used to save our National Health Service, pay public service workers a decent wage, finance home-insulation and expand renewable energy.

Worryingly, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report — which came out on March 20, after 8 years of research — makes clear that a climate time bomb is ticking.

The report, by a United Nations panel of top scientists, states categorically that an increase in global heating beyond 1.5ºC over pre-industrial levels is the threshold beyond which damage to the climate will become “rapidly irreversible". This IPCC Report sets out the devastation that has already been inflicted on swathes of the world.

Extreme weather caused by Climate Breakdown has led to:

• increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions
• millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods
• millions of people facing hunger, and forcing them to become climate refugees, and
• irreversible losses in vital ecosystems.

Thus, as UN secretary general, António Guterres, said: “This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Proof yet again — as ecosocialists have argued for decades — that we need to #ActNow to ensure a liveable planet in the future.

In fact, one of the most alarming parts of the Report states, with “medium confidence”, that “[w]ithout a strengthening of policies, global warming of 3.2°C is projected by 2100”. Just three years ago, Mark Lynas’ book, Our Final warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency, spelled out what a world that has been heated to 3⁰C above pre-industrial levels. This would be a world with a climate hotter than any experienced throughout the entire existence of the human species. The impacts would include a global food crisis, the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, and exposing some 50 million people to temperature and humidity levels “above the survivability threshold”.

However, the good news is that we still have a chance to prevent the worst of climate change’s future harms. But this chance is now very close to being the last one we’ll have.

To avoid uncontrollable climate breakdown, we must rapidly slash carbon pollution and fossil fuel use by nearly two-thirds by 2035. This is something we’ve known for decades. Yet even now, this government refuses to take the necessary actions. In fact, it acts criminally — issuing more than 100 new oil and gas licences, along with approving a new coal mine in Cumbria. Perhaps climate science is too difficult for these ecocide criminals to understand? If so, Jonathan Pie has produced a short video: “Climate Science for Dummies".

Thus it’s great news that trade unions, environment and healthcare groups, and others, have given their support to Extinction Rebellion’s “The Big One” demo in London — outside Parliament — which will take place from April 21‒24.

Amongst the organisations that have already pledged their support are The Public and Commercial Services Union, Unite Community, Fuel Poverty Action, National Health Service Workers Say No!, Climate Justice Coalition, Global Justice Now, Women’s Climate Strike, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Conspicuous by their absence — so far — are the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Extinction Rebellion are planning to get at least 100,000 people to attend the protest — billed as a “multi-day show of strength of citizens which will be impossible to ignore”. XR’s demand — for “System Change to tackle the interconnected crises of climate, cost of living and our broken political system” — is something that all those wanting an ecologically-sustainable and socially-just world should support in any way we can.

As XR says: “Everyone is needed. Groups and movements must unite to survive, to transform together, address inequality and restore the living world.”

It really IS now time to #ChooseYourFuture.

[Abridged from Allan Todd is a climate and anti-fascist activist and has been active with Greenpeace and XR and is a member of Anti-Capitalist Resistance and of Left Unity’s National Council. Todd is the author of Revolutions 1789-1917 (CUP) and Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary (Pen & Sword). His next book is Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary.]

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