13 November 2022
Kate Salmon, Green Party speaker for Moordown, was one of the speakers to around 100 demonstrators in Bournemouth Square for Saturday's COP27 Global Day of Action.
Kate said: "I want to talk to you today about what real leadership on climate change might look like, and about how the answers to the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis are linked.
"Like all of us, I've been watching the events at COP27 for the last week, listening to the arguments and the themes coming out of the summit. But I'm still going back in my mind to what happened just before the summit, when our prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said he was too busy to attend. Too busy because of the economic crisis in this country. An economic crisis caused in no small part by soaring energy prices - energy prices that are linked to our dependence on fossil fuels, and our failure to invest in clean renewable energy, in good public transport, and in a mass home insulation scheme. Things the Greens and environmental campaigners have been calling for, for years.
"The absolute absurdity of the situation is almost overwhelming. The UN have recently told us that we've almost certainly missed our chance to reduce global temperatures to less than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the level at which we might stand a chance of avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told COP27 delegates, in the starkest of terms, what would happen if nations fail to act together now on climate change. He called it a suicide pact. But Rishi Sunak is too busy to worry about that.
"The domestic situation is undoubtedly very serious. The astronomical rise in energy prices has caused a cost of living crisis, and millions of people are now struggling to afford the essentials. Every day more and more people are making impossible decisions about whether to put food on the table or pay their bills. This week the Trussell Trust, who support a network of more than 400 food banks across the country, released figures that show they gave out almost 1.3 million food parcels in the six months to September. That's a 33% increase on last year, and a more than 50% increase on pre-pandemic levels. And that is through the summer months, when the energy bills haven't really started to bite. That's the level of need in the UK now. And millions of people are facing a really scary winter to come.
"We know that the answers to the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency are the same. We need to end our dependency on fossil fuels. We need to invest in clean, renewable technologies, in good, efficient, affordable public transport and in a mass home insulation scheme to fix our leaky building stock. The British Government should be leading from the front on this, not trying to shift the blame and telling other people what they need to do, not issuing new licences to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea. Not letting the energy giants make massive profits while people suffer and austerity is reintroduced. We know that the solution to these twin crises is the same. We know - and the Government knows - it's time to stop making excuses. It's time to act.
"The Tories aren't going to give us a General Election any time soon. But here in BCP, we actually do have an opportunity to make our voices heard, at the local elections in May next year. In Bournemouth, you have two fantastic Green councillors, Simon Bull and Chris Rigby, and they have been instrumental in enacting positive change in your local community - including getting the Council to declare a climate and ecological emergency.
"More Greens in the Council Chamber next year mean we could do more. And we could show Westminster what leadership on climate change and social justice looks like. Thank you."