I was honoured to speak at Saturday’s march to demand climate justice and urgent action to cut emissions. It was heartening to see lots of different groups represented in our Climate Coalition – and so many great banners!
Here is my speech:
“This is a critical moment for our city, our country and our planet.
Yesterday thousands of young people descended on Glasgow. World leaders can’t have failed to hear their demands for climate action now.
Today you – we – have joined people across the globe calling for climate justice – and we won’t take no for an answer
We won’t settle for empty rhetoric.
We don’t want promises, we want change.
We demand a society and an economy:
Without carbon emissions
And we want it now!
We know the excuses – that it’s too hard or too expensive but the price of inaction is extinction.
We’re here today because we believe a just transition to a zero carbon world is possible.
We know that the rich industrialised nations – including our own – are responsible for the climate crisis. For more than 200 years we’ve exploited our planet and it’s people.
We can’t export responsibility for tackling the problems of today to the world’s poorest countries.
It’s immoral to ask them to pay the price of cleaning up our mess – not least because they are already bearing the brunt of the crisis:
Floods, droughts and disease
Extreme heat and wild fires
Toxic air and polluted water
None of us are untouched but, for people from Barbados to the Maldives, from Tuvalu to Kenya, this is beyond urgent. Indigenous communities in the most vulnerable areas can’t wait any longer.
Paris set out an ambition to limit global warming to no more that 1.5 degrees. Glasgow must set out a clear plan to keep it alive.
We can’t afford failure or delay.
Net zero by 2060 or 2070, commitments to do something, but just not yet, aren’t good enough.
The UN reported last week that we’re on track for disastrous warming of 2.7 degrees. That would create millions of climate refugees. Communities and natural wonders would be destroyed.
To meet 1.5 degrees we must start… yesterday… and cut carbon emissions in half in this decade.
We must invest in adaptation and mitigation to protect people from the damage already done.
But this fossil-free future doesn’t need to be a picture of doom, action presents huge opportunities to create a better future for all of us:
Good jobs at decent wages
Cleaner air and warmer homes
Lifting people out of poverty here and around the world.
We can be so much better than the Tory Ministers representing us at COP26 – who in the weeks before the summit began dropped climate pledges to secure a trade deal with Australia, cut taxes on domestic flights and abandoned millions of the worlds poorest by cutting the aid budget.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel positive about the future, but the young people in Glasgow and here today give me hope.
We can stop the climate emergency.
People can join together and step up.
And we must.”