Holding on #1

September 25th, 2020

This time last year 7.6 million people came out on the streets all over the world demanding climate justice.

I have an image in my head of many television screens grouped together on the BBC News, illustrating the powerful message that we all want change, real action to address the climate emergency.

In September 2020, many people’s focus is, understandably, on the ‘here and now’ of saving jobs and livelihoods.

I’ll be writing to Rishi Sunak later! ‘Supporting people to be in viable jobs’ should include investing in all-important green infrastructure. Ironically, our ‘here and now’ will soon be much more challenging and difficult if we don’t do something about changing the way we live…..

It is already tragically challenging and difficult for people in many parts of the world.

So, today, September 25th, the spotlight by young climate activists is on the Most Affected People and Areas (MAPA). Since the Covid-19 pandemic set in, climate strikers (Fridays for Future) have been highlighting the need for a just and green recovery, and for the need to keep raising our voices for these interwoven crises. Mass protests have had to take on different shapes to keep everyone safe. But it is a crucial time to remind the world how climate justice is connected to building a healthier more resilient world.

Six young people from MAPA countries, so brave and from some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, are standing up because they’re seeing with their own eyes that climate action can’t wait. Their names are Mitzi Jonelle Tan from the Philippines, Eyal Weintraub and Nicole Becker from Argentina, Disha A Ravi from India, Kevin Mtai from Kenya and Laura Veronica Munoz from Colombia.

Women in Satkhira, Bangladesh; Pacific Climate Warriors in the Pacific islands; ‘light paintings’ in the Philippines; and ‘shoe strikes’ in Japan are also all so committed and imaginative – check out the last two at 350.org if you’re intrigued….

Closer to (my) home, Bristol-based Mya-Rose Craig (#Birdgirl – she is a very knowledgeable ‘birder’, but also passionate about the importance of racial diversity in climate activism…) has done the most northerly climate strike ever, in the melting Arctic, to “convey my desperation and the urgency of the issue.” I heard her speak at the Greta Thunberg rally earlier in the year – I so admire these young people who are fighting for their world. She is 18 and deserves our support.

Now, on other news, a couple of ‘positives’ first:

A campaigning group whom I support, We Move Europe, successfully raised funds to back activists pushing the Polish government to declare a climate emergency. The declaration hasn’t happened yet (we seem to have to be so grateful for ‘small mercies’ in this global fight…); but politicians from different political parties spoke up to back the protesters’ demands, and the media was full of debate on climate change. A start…

On World Rhino Day last week, Rainforest Action Network announced a new rhino sanctuary in Indonesia.  After years of RAN exposing threats to the Leuser Ecosystem, a coalition including major palm oil companies will be helping to protect endangered Sumatran rhinos (and their neighbours!). Big agribusinesses still need to be pressured to halt their destruction, but another start…

Depressing negatives have been highlighted by The Guardian (and echoed by Friends of the Earth) – a quarter of UK mammals are at imminent risk of extinction; and the UK has failed on 17 of 20 UN biodiversity targets, characterised as a ‘lost decade for Nature’…

If you haven’t already, and live in this country, please urge your MP to back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. I’ve had a very positive email from the CEE Bill Alliance Team (it’s always encouraging to know how many people care and are campaigning, even if that’s still not routinely covered in popular media…).  71 MPs already support the bill and the Liberal Democrats as a whole party have declared their support. The team asks people to send out thank-you messages if your MP has backed the bill (no such luck, here!). They also highlight the importance of the Climate Assembly UK (note my ‘frequent flyers tax’ appeal last week!) – we all need a say on the enormous changes that are needed in response to the climate emergency, especially if we are to protect the most vulnerable in society. If you’d like to read more or simply support the campaign, check out www.ceebill.uk

Returning to Bristol UK, the home of Wildscreen Festival 2019, Wildscreen Festival 2020 is preparing to hold its events online next month. The festival brings together photographers, filmmakers and creative professionals with conservationists to create compelling stories about the natural world ‘that inspire the wider public to experience it, feel part of it and protect it.’

David Attenborough, Wildscreen patron, said: “Never has communicating the threats facing our natural world and the bold solutions required to protect and restore it been so vital… tell the stories the world needs to hear and see.”

The Festival has just announced an event in which Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Group Chief Executive, will be in conversation with TV presenter, adventurer and wildlife expert Steve Backshall. The two will discuss their shared love of the natural world, the climate crisis and the role of nature programming, and what broadcasters can do to accelerate their own progress towards net zero carbon.

And finally this week, I read a moving article in The Guardian by a man aged 31 dying of cancer. Approaching death, he is thinking about his priorities in life. One of these is to ‘protect the planet’ – “I can’t leave this off because it’s so important. I’ll be gone soon, but humanity will still be faced with the huge challenge of reducing carbon emissions and saving habitats from destruction. In my time here, I’ve been lucky enough to see some natural wonders and understand how precious they are. Hopefully future generations will be able to say the same. But it will take a massive collective effort.

“If you asked me what I’d want to leave behind, it would be a new awareness of these things among my friends – and anyone who’ll listen really.”

His name is Elliot Dallen. I hope he forgives me quoting him…..

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