Why we must declare a ‘climate emergency’

Extinction Rebellion protesters at Oxford Circus in April
Extinction Rebellion protesters at Oxford Circus in April (credit James Cracknell)

Alison Yates from Enfield Extinction Rebellion spells out the environmental problems we face

Local people are demanding that Enfield Council declares a ‘climate emergency’ at its next full meeting, joining neighbours Haringey and Waltham Forest, plus the Mayor of London and 83 other local councils around the country.

In October 2018 a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report concluded that the risk of catastrophic climate change – including extreme heat, drought, flooding and climate-related poverty – would significantly increase unless global warming could be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. But this threshold is likely to be reached by 2030 unless radical action is taken.

As this is an unprecedented and imminent threat, Enfield residents and workers are therefore demanding and expecting the council to propose becoming carbon neutral by 2025 and to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels with immediate effect.

Many people have become particularly aware this year of the climate emergency facing us. In March, Cyclone Idai brought devastating floods to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi with a death toll of at least 750 and more than 100,000 displaced. In April, Sir David Attenborough’s documentary Climate Change –The Facts aired, setting out the stark truth about our situation and the bleakness of our future if we don’t act immediately. The same month Sweden’s 16-year-old student climate striker Greta Thunberg was invited to address a packed House of Commons.

Greta, in her speech, said: “Basically nothing is being done to halt, or even slow, climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.

“The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.”

Activists from Extinction Rebellion have taken to the streets of London to highlight Greta’s message in their demonstrations at Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus. Now, an Enfield branch of Extinction Rebellion has been formed, and we hope that as many local people as possible will join our demonstration outside Enfield Civic Centre from 6pm on Wednesday 10th July, to put pressure on the council to declare a climate emergency.

This is an emergency. We need to act now.