Strikes by school pupils, and civil disobedience by Extinction Rebellion, pushed the UK’s House of Commons into declaring a “climate emergency” yesterday. The government is so weak and divided that – having said one week ago that it would not make such a declaration – it caved in and lined up behind a motion put by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The Tories’ weakness really is part of this. The prime minister, Theresa May, lost the ability to tell her MPs how to vote on anything, during repeated breakdowns of their traditional
discipline over Brexit. And the “climate emergency” vote took place on the day that she fired her defence secretary Gavin Williamson for breaching security.
And the movements outside parliament made the difference. The Labour MP Faisal Rashid pointed out during the debate: “We are not here because of an international effort co-ordinated by world leaders. […] We are here because a small group of schoolchildren decided to walk out of school to take a stand against climate change, and they have inspired a global movement.” It is “an indictment of our global political leadership”, he argued.
Another reason the “climate emergency” motion passed is that it committed neither the government nor parliament to do a single thing. It could be, and was, supported by many total hypocrites as a way of co-opting and defusing people’s anger.
Anyone who thinks that parliament actually meant what it said, when it voted for Corbyn’s motion, should bear in mind that:
■ Parliament believes it can declare a “climate emergency” while supporting a third runway at Heathrow Airport. That will help ensure a global expansion of aviation, which is Read the rest of this entry »