Thousands lobby their MPs on climate and environmental ’emergency’
Thousands of people have gathered around Westminster to call on their MPs to take urgent action on the climate and environmental “emergency”.
MPs have been meeting their constituents around the Houses of Parliament, over Lambeth Bridge and along the Thames to discuss the need to take action on cutting emissions, protecting nature and tackling plastic pollution.
Around 12,000 people turned up to lobby their MPs, according to organisers the Climate Coalition and Greener UK, whose members include aid agencies, social groups and conservation organisations.
The Time Is Now lobby follows growing environmental protests and increasing warnings of the need for “unprecedented action” to curb dangerous climate change and the threats faced by wildlife and the natural world.
Parliament has declared an environment and climate emergency, and the lobby comes on the day the Lords debate a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, which should pass into law this week.
Before MPs began to meet campaigners, religious leaders and people from different faiths marched down Whitehall on a walk of witness.
They were led by former archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who said he was proud the UK had begun to realise the seriousness of the situation.
“I compare it with the great struggle 200 years ago with ending the slave trade, Parliament took an option that wasn’t easy, it must have felt risky at the time facing massive entrenched global culture and things changed.
“If we want to be true to the very best of ourselves in the UK, that’s a story we might want to tell ourselves again,” he told the Press Association.
At least 195 MPs signed in for the event and were encouraged to stick a pin in a large map of the UK to mark where their constituency was before being taken by rickshaw to speak to their constituents.
At 2pm, campaigners rang thousands of alarm clocks, mobile phone alarms and sirens, and cheered loudly, as part of a move to symbolise “the time is now” to act.
Campaigners had come dressed as pandas, Wombles and even condoms, and people were able to leave messages for politicians about protecting the natural world by making a call in a “rewilded” phone box covered in flowers.
Professor Michelle Lowe, from Winchester, said she had come to the mass lobby to speak to her MP because “the time is now”.
“I have children, who are 22, 20 and 16, and I’m worried about their futures,” she said.
Retired self-employed gardener Rosie Harden-Vane, from Holywell, Northumberland, said: “We’ve absolutely got to do something about the state of the planet, we are absolutely ruining it with pollution.”
She said she wanted to urge politicians “to speed up the process of reaching net zero emissions and to not just focus on the UK but be a shining example for the rest of the world, and to do something about single use plastic”.
Former climate change secretary and Liberal Democrat MP Sir Ed Davey was among the first to turn up to meet constituents and said “it’s absolutely clear that the British public are saying to politicians get tough on climate”.
He accused the Government of “putting the brakes on” climate action since 2015.
He said: “This is an emergency, we know what to do, they should get on and do it.”
But former Tory minister Damien Green said the legislation on net zero was a “big step forward”.
HE added: “People are always impatient for more action, I do think the Government has been particularly proactive on this over the past few years.”
Benjamin Halfpenny from Greener UK said one of the asks of MPs was a strong Environment Bill to tackle declines in wildlife such as hedgehogs, air pollution and water quality in rivers.