Time is running out but the Tories don't care, join the Valentines Day climate strike and build the resistance, writes Shabbir Lakha
Marking a year of striking from school once a month to protest climate inaction, students and young people will spend Valentine’s Day taking to the streets all over the country, and all over the world, to show their love for a habitable planet.
Thanks to the sustained protest movement started by Greta Thunberg and other young people all over the world, the reality of climate breakdown has become far more prominent in mainstream discourse. But despite it being the single biggest issue facing the entire planet with an extremely short deadline, little has been done by world leaders to implement any real change.
In September 2019, on a globally coordinated climate strike, an estimated 4 million people, overwhelmingly school students, marched in around 2,500 locations spanning 163 countries. The explosion in climate activism driven by young people led to a string of governments declaring climate emergencies, including the UK introduced by Jeremy Corbyn.
However, meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis is yet to be seen. In the US, Trump maintains that climate change is a hoax; in Australia even after the country was literally on fire, the government refuses to acknowledge climate change; the EU has just approved €29 billion worth of gas infrastructure projects; Canada has doubled down on building a new pipeline – on indigenous land no less; and in Davos, Greta Thunberg exposed how world leaders are paying lip service to the climate movement while carrying on with business as usual.
In Britain, climate was the first casualty of the 2019 general election and Boris Johnson’s government is committed to exacerbating the problem. In this week’s cabinet reshuffle, George Eustice has replaced Theresa Villiers as Environment Secretary. Villier was terrible enough, but Eustice is worse still.
Eustice has repeatedly voted against measures to curb climate change, including setting a decarbonisation target, reducing emissions from new homes, but he did vote to increase taxes on renewable energy, for the badger cull and to sell off nationally owned forests. Eustice, who in 2016 described the EU’s environmental protections as “spirit-crushing”, will now lead on the proposed Environment bill, Agriculture bill and Fisheries bill which will replace EU directives. All three bills have been criticised by environmental groups for the gaping loopholes which will in effect downgrade the already low standard of environmental protection we have.
For the Tories, it’s business first and climate action...never. If they get anywhere with a post-Brexit trade deal with Trumpian USA, then we can expect even further slashing of basic protections.
All of this points to the urgency of the climate movement taking matters into its own hands. The simple truth is that short term profit will always outweigh securing a sustainable future for the ruling class of this country and globally.
The dynamic climate strike movement has shown that it won’t take the empty words of politicians as the solution and will instead build internationally-linked resistance in every community.
The Valentine’s strike, the first climate strike of 2020 which is taking place in over 150 countries, will show the movement is not slowing down and will land a blow to the business as usual that our leaders hold so dear.
We all need to support the strikes to make them as big and effective as possible, and move to generalising the movement across the labour movement. So get down to your nearest climate strike today, show your love for the climate and join the resistance.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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