We joined people from across West Yorkshire as we marched backwards through the streets of Leeds on Saturday 7th May.
We were protesting against the government’s backtracking on climate change policies since the 2015 general election and demanding that we go ‘Forward not Backwards on Climate!’
Over the past year the government has backtracked on climate policies. A series of policies have been cut or cancelled, shaking the confidence of investors and taking the UK further off course in meeting its climate goals. This has included removing onshore wind subsidies, massive cuts to solar funding, planning changes to fast-track fracking, scrapping the Green Deal for home insulation and giving new tax breaks for fossil fuels.
The march was a lively event, and the streets echoed with our chants:
“You go Backward, we say Forward!
At three points on the march route we stopped, turned around and walked backwards to illustrate the government’s back-tracking on climate.
Video footage of the march. (Thank you to Amin for the photos/ video footage.)
We certainly got the public’s attention and we were keen to reach out to them. We gave out hundreds of flyers (Flyer for 7 May 2016) to the public, telling them what the protest was about and providing them with a link to find out more and get involved.
In September 2015, the Chair of the government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, took the unusual step of writing to the Secretary of State, Amber Rudd, to tell her that the Government was creating confusion among potential investors in the low carbon economy. He also stated that the lack of long-term signals from government “could well lead to… a risk that targets to reduce emissions will be missed”.
Nations including the UK signed up at the Paris climate talks to aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Undermining renewable energy and energy efficiency, giving tax breaks for fossil fuels and encouraging carbon-intensive transport through road building and airport expansion is the exact opposite of the action that is required for the UK to play its part in limiting global warming.
The event ended with a rally in City Square with an impressive line-up of speakers, ably compered by Simon Bowens from Friends of the Earth: Coralie from Reclaim the Power, Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper from the Green Party, Mike Davies from Leeds Alliance for Green Socialism, Helen from Frack Free Leeds, Chris Herring from the Kirklees-based Green Building Store, Paul Rogers from Bradford University and Duncan Walpole from the Kirklees-based green business Enviromental.
The march was organised by a number of groups working together as Climate Action Leeds (full list of groups involved). It was one of several that will be taking place across the country on 7-8 May, including a backwards march down Whitehall in London, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.
The Boxing Day floods across Yorkshire reminded us of the disastrous consequences of not tackling climate change.
Taking action on climate change would be a win-win situation for Yorkshire. There are 240,000 households living in fuel poverty in Yorkshire while 1000 people die prematurely each year as a result of air pollution in West Yorkshire alone. There are also swathes of Yorkshire ear-marked for fracking. The actions that we need to take to tackle climate change will also improve people’s health, create jobs and protect communities from the risks of fracking.
Whose Planet? Our Planet!
Whose Jobs? Our Jobs!
Whose Air? Our Air!
Whose Water? Our Water!
Whose Homes? Our Homes!
Whose Power? Our Power!
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