Lockdown #13

June 8th, 2020

Of course this week my thoughts are dominated by the movement for justice for Black people around the world. Could this, at long last, be a moment for real change? In everything – our relationship with the natural world; and our relationship with each other….It is all connected. There is no just recovery for people and the climate, without addressing the systemic harm and violence towards Black communities, as 350.org put it. So many indigenous peoples around the world are being victimised, even killed, by greedy polluting corporations; and I keep forgetting to mention the terrible storms that have been affecting India and Bangladesh recently. People are coping with dreadful circumstances; and we here are all too easily able to ignore them – why does the BBC, for instance, not at least announce such news as these storms together with a warning about climate change….? The importance of protecting the planet and protecting all humans equally is surely not a matter of opinion – it is a matter of fact and morality.

It would be great if you could contact the BBC about this – Extinction Rebellion suggests the following:

“We need an economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis that prioritises people and planet. The BBC says ‘Our Planet Matters’, but where is the discussion on the news?

Tell the BBC to cover a green economic recovery instead of a return to ‘business as usual’. Submit comments and complaints via the BBC. Share on social media with the hashtags #EmergencyOurPlanetMatters #NoGoingBack #BBC4CEE, or on our Facebook page.”

And/or write a personal letter, like I do. Sometimes they get answered!

Returning to the subject of racism, I have a personal memory – working at Lucas Vale Primary School in Deptford, London, I knew such a loving, inspirational nursery teacher there, Thelma Perkins. She wrote a children’s book, ‘Wishing on a Wooden Spoon’. It is so important that all children from an early age (my 18 month old grandson has loved books from when he was tiny) ‘read’ books where the protagonists are black, as well as actively anti-racist books. Aimee Felone in The Guardian has some suggestions. Check out the Letterbox Library too.

I read a horrible tweet telling Greta Thunberg to ‘go back to climate fake news’ with her righteous anger (such an important phrase) – 

about the EU and individual democratic nations’ lack of official condemnation of the police brutality and attacks on the press.

Children and young people are our hope for correcting our wrongs in both spheres – such a burden for them too, of course….

Friday (June 5th) was World Environment Day. A digital event was hosted in Stockholm by ‘We Don’t Have Time’ and in Colombia by the United Nations. This year’s theme was biodiversity. An impressive array of government representatives, businesses, celebrities and ‘ordinary citizens’ focused on this ‘urgent and existential’ theme….The Day was mentioned on the BBC Radio Three news, but with absolutely no urgent and existential comment – a day to think about animals, as far as most listeners could tell….

Now, pieces of serious information that need attention (by all of us, to some degree):

the International Monetary Fund has said equity markets have generally ignored the increasing number of natural disasters over the past 50 years and tougher rules are needed to make investors aware of the dangers posed by the climate crisis.

Companies should be forced to disclose their exposure to climate risk because a voluntary approach does not go far enough, the IMF said.

How many warnings do we need? We all have a duty to check how our money is being invested; and spread the word with everyone we know that companies need to be accountable. We can’t wait for laws to change, it seems – let’s use our people power and withdraw support from blinkered (a polite way of saying greedy…?!) companies….

Some UK companies are leading the way (hopefully…) – they have sent a letter to the prime minister urging ministers to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a springboard to propel a green economy. The signatories to the letter, including Asda, Sky and Yorkshire Water, urge ministers to publish detailed plans that will put the UK back on track to meet the medium-term climate goals, from which it’s slipping. Why is it slipping?…. And the goals are still too far in the future…

On June 25th, the Climate Change Committee is due to publish its annual report assessing the UK’s progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, OR LACK THEREOF.  Extinction Rebellion is planning action on that day – please do what you can to support XR. Chris Stark of the CCC has always re-assured me and sounded optimistic about the government’s progress. But can we really trust this government…?! I’d love to think so, but they’re failing us in so many ways, yet again..

I’ll end with some immediate action that is possible. ‘Possible’, the group ‘inspiring climate action’, is promoting a ‘Stride and Ride 5’ initiative. Keeping buses and trains safe as we begin to emerge from lockdown presents an unprecedented challenge for our cities and towns – and the serious risk that our streets become choked with cars.  This new initiative encourages people pledging to walk, run, cycle, skate or scoot at least 5 times in a fortnight. Each journey represents one of 5 reasons to stride and ride: to keep public transport safe; to keep our air clean; to keep our streets safe, quiet and peaceful; to improve our health; and to help tackle climate change.

As Max Wakefield of Possible said: “With everyone’s routine shaken up, what better time for us to all try something new together?” Visit their website.

And sorry but just before I go, I have a further reminder of Donald Trump’s cruelty: his administration is finalising rules that will allow hunters in Alaska’s national parks to shoot bears and wolves, and their cubs and pups, while they are in their dens. Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director for the Centre for Western Priorities, called the rule change “amazingly cruel” and said it was “just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America’s wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters.” Keep writing and signing petitions! Even oil companies care about their reputations- let’s expose them!

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