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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Extinction Rebellion Activists Demand More Progress from BCP Council

Discussions over how to respond to the threat of climate change continue across the country. Meanwhile, local activists push for more action to help fight the climate crisis…

Campaign group Extinction Rebellion Bournemouth are calling on BCP Council to stand by their plan to cut carbon emissions and protect the local environment.

Over the past few years, climate change activism has become increasingly mainstream. Public opinion has shifted in favour of concerted national action to reduce the UK’s emissions. A recent survey from the Business Department revealed that 82% of people were concerned about the impact of climate change. In response to this, a growing number of local councils across the country have declared climate and ecological emergencies.

This increasing national awareness is due, in no small part, to Extinction Rebellion. This is the global environmental movement established in 2018 that shot to international fame through massive non-violent protests. Now, ahead of a BCP Council meeting on 24th November, local XR activists are calling on residents to put pressure on the council to stick to commitments made in last year’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Action Plan.

“We know what the council has committed to do,” said Melissa, a representative of Extinction Rebellion Bournemouth. “What we don’t know is how much of the [Climate and Ecological Emergency Action] plan has been implemented. The council did not commit to regular reporting on progress against the plan. We are asking for greater transparency around decision making, around policy, and around performance against plan. We want the council to commit to involving the public in decisions about how and when we get to net zero as a community.’

EXTINCTION REBELLION BOURNEMOUTH: WHAT DO THEY WANT?

The group want to hold the council to their target of achieving net zero carbon emissions from their own operations by 2030. They also want more information on how the council intends to achieve net zero in the local area by 2050.

In addition, they are pushing for a Citizen’s Assembly on climate change. A key part of the 2019 Action Plan. Melissa argued that a Citizen’s Assembly would help get around political inaction.

“Citizens’ assemblies are especially useful when difficult trade-offs are necessary,” she claimed. “(They) can help mitigate the impacts of changes on the most vulnerable people.”

Extinction Rebellion Bournemouth encourage residents to submit questions to the next BCP Council meeting to express their concerns. Their campaign comes as local activists criticise perceived backtracking on climate change commitments from the now-Conservative-led council.

“It feels like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic,” said Melissa. “Progress in developing and implementing the climate action plan appears to have completely stalled. Active travel schemes implemented during the pandemic have been rolled back. ‘Climate Change’ has been removed from the list of cabinet job titles. And the new ‘Sustainability’ portfolio holder has actively spoken out against any revival of Navitus Bay wind farm plans.”

LOCAL AND NATIONAL AUTHORITIES RESPOND TO THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Other councils in the region have also declared a climate and ecological emergency. Dorset County Council recently released a draft version of their own Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy. The plan lays out what the council described as a “realistic and achievable” timetable for Dorset to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

As in Bournemouth, it was met with calls for further action and greater public engagement from local activists. Extinction Rebellion Wimborne encouraged locals to have their say during the six-week consultation on the plan. They described it as “more like a wish list” than a clear strategy in one Facebook post.

These debates over climate change in local councils come as the government announces a new £4bn investment as part of a “green industrial revolution”. The massive investment aims to create 250,000 new jobs in “green” industries such as renewable energy and carbon capture. It also includes a ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

The moves taken by both local and national authorities are perhaps a sign that groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s School Strikes for Climate are having an impact. For Melissa, the increasing public support for action against climate change is a cause for hope.

“We believe that the terms of the debate have now shifted,” she said. “There is widespread recognition that we cannot continue with business as usual and still expect today’s young people to have a habitable planet throughout their lives”.

To keep up with Extinction Rebellion’s BCP branch, visit their Facebook page here. For more on our local environment-themed stories, please click here. And you can also follow HQB Media on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.  

Tom Carter
Tom Carter
Tom is an Oxford university graduate and budding journalist from Southampton. He studied history as an undergraduate at Wadham College. Music and culture, politics, local news and history are his among his favourite subjects to write about. And when not writing, he spends time playing guitar, reading, and walking his two dogs.

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