Somerset Labour Backs Global Day for Climate Justice

The Unite Balloon leads the way in Bristol

Saturday November 6th 2021 saw  people around the globe taking to the streets to urge world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow to take decisive action to save the planet and life on it from extinction .  Somerset Labour members joined Trades Unionists and Climate activists at a major march through the streets of Bristol.  Bridgwater Town Councils Climate Change spokesperson Cllr Kathy Pearce (Bridgwater, Westover) said “The power is in their hands.  But will they have the courage to stand up to a global capitalist system which, since the dawning of the industrial revolution, has operated on a principle  that the planet Earth has infinite resources and capacity to be treated as a giant dustbin. The threat to our existence is now, as hundreds of people around the world have perished due to extremes of climate just in the last 12 months. Thousands of people in the poorest countries around the world, who have caused least damage to the climate, are at risk of displacement due to an intense, uninhabitable, increase in temperature. Locally, if the situation does not improve, Met Office predictions are that the low lying areas of Somerset, including Bridgwater, will be under 2m of water by 2050.”

Bridgwater Labour Leader Brian Smedley carrying the Trades Council banner through Bristol

The Bristol march was one of the largest outside of London and Glasgow with some 7,000 people taking part. Starting at College Green and led by the large red balloon of UNITE-The Union, the protestors walked through the city centre to Broadmead, turning up Union street to Castle Park, turning down past the Bristol Bridge onto Baldwin Street and then back across by the Harbourside and up to College Green again.

Workers have the power to lead the change needed

Following the Bridgwater Trades Union Council banner -one of the largest and most noticeable on the demo – Bridgwater Labour councillors were keen to make the connection between organised labour and the struggle to take on the forces of capitalism in the council chambers, Westminster, in the workplace and on the streets. Town Council Labour leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour, Westover) said “Not many political parties are going to say we need to destroy the planet so the focus has to be on how we save it. Most parties can’t argue about that. What we’re seeing though is the Tory party paying lip service to taking the necessary measures and then actually not really delivering. We saw astounding levels of hypocrisy in their recent budget where domestic flights were actively encouraged and new oil fields were given the green light. Instead of expanding fossil fuel production we need to be winding it down and focusing on greener energy but crucially ensuring we take the workers with us and no one is left behind. This needs a sea change. Literally.”

Cllr Kathy Pearce says it’s time for action

Making the Difference

Cllr Pearce added “It could all be so different.  We must divest in fossil fuels.  Polluters must be taxed heavily and government must provide subsidies to enable clean, green, industry and homes to become the norm.  Planning legislation must change with urgency to provide homes and buildings which harness natural power sources and are designed to be resilient to extremes of temperature. Alternatives exist to fossil fuel to power our homes and greener, cleaner, methods are being developed (albeit late in the day) of powering industrial processes.  At this week’s Trades Council meeting, we heard from members of the Unite Community about how they are campaigning for the transition to environmentally sustainable methods of producing steel.  In the Orkney Islands, ground breaking work is taking place to harness the power of the waves to produce energy. And if money talks, then power is in our hand to demand better.  Reject the notion that we need to spend more than we can afford on items we don’t really need in order to bring pleasure.”

Time for action

What can we do ourselves?

Kathy Pearce is leading on environmental measures within the town council such as reforesting areas of Bridgwater with her tree fund, and changing workplace practices and introducing greener products. The Town Councils eco festival ‘Seed the Day’ is now in it’s third year. But there’s more we can all do. Kathy adds ” Buy only what you need.  Avoid food waste. Seek out plastic free products, resist plastic packaging whenever you can, buy local and ethically sourced foods.  Plant trees and flowers which feed our pollinators, absorb CO2 and cool our planet.  It needn’t be overwhelmingly difficult to power a green revolution.  Where there is a will there is a way. We are custodians of the land and we cannot afford not to.”

Pictures from the Day


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