Monday, May 6, 2024

Sunak govt failed UK on climate, say Greenpeace.

Greenpeace has criticized Rishi Sunak’s government for its failure to effectively tackle the climate crisis and instead focus on a divisive culture war. The charity’s joint executive directors, Areeba Hamid and Will McCallum, expressed concern over the government’s attempts to exploit environmental protests as a wedge issue. They highlighted the dangerous consequences of blocking Greenpeace’s policy experts from advising civil servants and warned about the potential disastrous impact on environmental policy.

Greenpeace, as the world’s most prominent environmental NGO, recently protested against Sunak’s plan to expand oil and gas reserves with new drilling licenses in the North Sea. The organization draped Sunak’s Yorkshire manor house in black fabric during a time when they knew the house would be empty. Although Greenpeace had conducted similar protests in the past, this time the political response was more aggressive. Conservative MPs equated the peaceful stunt with the murders of MPs David Amess and Jo Cox.

As a result of the protest, important meetings were canceled and government officials were instructed to halt all engagement with Greenpeace. The charity was removed from a WhatsApp group involving civil servants planning a meeting with NGOs on ocean protection. Additionally, a scheduled meeting about plastics with senior civil servants was canceled. Greenpeace leaders described the actions as concerning and expressed worries about civil servants being denied access to a civil society group offering policy expertise.

In response to the government’s actions, Greenpeace published an open letter to Sunak, expressing concerns about the government’s commitment to climate action and the future of democracy. The letter criticized the government’s refusal to engage with civil society experts and its denial of access to policy discussions based on accusations of law-breaking. Greenpeace argued that the government itself was risking undue influence from corporate polluters who have a history of unlawful activities.

The joint executive directors of Greenpeace believe that Sunak’s government will be remembered as the administration that failed to address the climate crisis. They stressed that extreme weather events are becoming the norm, making government action on climate change crucial. They noted that ministers had not been actively engaging with green NGOs for a significant period, but blocking access to civil servants was a new and worrying development.

Greenpeace leaders acknowledged that the recent protest had polarized public opinion and resulted in both gaining and losing supporters. However, they emphasized that the organization would not be deterred from pursuing direct action. They stated that the worst response to attacks against direct action and civil disobedience would be to stop engaging in such actions.

While Greenpeace intends to continue its activism, the organization admitted that targeting an MP’s home again in the near future would be counterproductive due to the intensity of the response. Instead, they plan to launch “Operation Climate Vote,” a project aimed at mobilizing volunteers to canvass homes and promote environmental policies ahead of the next election. They believe that engaging in conversations with real people is the antidote to the culture wars prevalent in society.

Greenpeace urged individuals to vote for climate-conscious candidates as a means to effect change. They emphasized the importance of personal responsibility and choices but stated that if people truly want change, voting for candidates who prioritize climate action is crucial. Despite the challenges, Greenpeace leaders remain hopeful that the climate crisis can be reversed, given the opportunity for change that elections provide.

In response to Greenpeace’s criticisms, a government spokesperson defended its approach, arguing that the organization’s recent protest demonstrated its lack of seriousness. The spokesperson highlighted the government’s efforts to ensure energy security, reduce carbon emissions, and create jobs in the renewable energy sector. They claimed that the UK has decarbonized faster than any other G7 country and emphasized the significant investments made in renewable energy sources.


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