We Need a Completely Different Economic System.
Caroline Lucas MEP and principal speaker for the Green Party,
Speaking to 10000 demonstrators outside the US embassy in London, on International Climate Change Day, 3rd December 2005
This is easily the largest ever demonstration against climate change in this country.
We are standing here outside the US embassy, because George Bush’s refusal to act on climate change makes him guilty of crimes against humanity. (wild applause) But if George Bush is guilty, let us not forget our own prime minister, Tony Blair, is a very active accomplice in that crime as well (wild applause).
We have a message for Tony Blair, and our message is very clear, ( a shout from the crowd: “fuck off”, general laughter) Climate change is a far greater threat than international terrorism: climate change is itself a weapon of mass destruction. And if Tony Blair had spent a fraction of the resources and commitment that he spends on an illegal war in Iraq, instead of tackling climate change; then we might genuinely have a chance of a safer world.
And so we demand immediate and urgent action, now! (wild applause) this is the Prime Minister who says that climate change is the biggest threat that we face, who says he is going to show global leadership on it: well, he had better get his domestic house in order first. Because under this Prime Minister and this government, greenhouse gas emissions have risen, not fallen. This is a Prime Minister who personally intervened in a row between the Environment Ministry and the Trade Ministry, and he intervened in the row on the side of big business to allow them to emit more greenhouse gas emissions. This is a Prime Minister under whom aviation capacity is going to see a huge expansion, and who has embarked on a massive road building program. Well, this doesn’t look like global leadership to me. (wild applause)
The reality of climate change is a devastating one, and it is one that will hit the poorest people hardest. It is the reality that we are sleep walking towards, because most people, and almost all politicians are in a state of denial. The targets set by governments, or by the Kyoto protocol are hopelessly inadequate. Even worse our own government seems to have given up even on the idea of targets. Tony Blair was quoted a few weeks ago saying that legally binding targets make people nervous and worried. Well we have news for you Tony Blair; the absence of legally binding targets makes a lot more people a lot more nervous and a lot more worried. (wild applause)
Even more astonishingly, Margaret Becket has called targets “imperialist”. But the real imperialism is for rich countries to carry on with business as usual, knowing that the poorest countries will pay the price for our livelihoods with their lives, and the lives of their children. (wild applause) And under contraction and convergence, and let’s give a huge round of applause for that (applause). Contraction and Convergence is about a fair and equitable way of making cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in a way that means the poorest countries don’t suffer from it. That is the way we need to follow, and nationally we need a system of carbon allocation as well, so all of us have a domestic carbon allocation and quota. To make the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions not of 60% but of the 80% or 90% that we need. It will take nothing short of a revolution of our economy, a revolution of our planning system and our transport system, and the way in which we produce and consume. But watch my lips Tony Blair: that does not mean nuclear power. (wild applause)
Those of us who campaigned against the war in Iraq will find something strangely familiar here, about the tactics being used to persuade us that nuclear is necessary. First we have the contrived panic, about an energy crisis and gas supply, that is followed by a series of Downing Street anonymous briefings. And now the energy review: a dodgy dossier, full of misleading statements and lies, designed to give Blair the pretext he needs to implement a policy on nuclear that he has already decided upon. And just like the invasion of Iraq, the energy review will be used like the dodgy dossier to take us down the nuclear road. But our message to Tony Blair is simple: nuclear power is uneconomic, it is unsafe, it is unpopular. If nuclear power is the answer, it must have been a very stupid question. (applause).
The European Union could save some 40% of its energy demand by efficiency measures alone. Half of our remaining energy needs could be met by renewables by 2050, and yet it is true that the technical measures alone will not be enough. We need a completely different economic system, based not on ever increasing economic growth, but on meeting people’s real needs. (wild applause) There are compelling reasons to go in that direction, because the global peak in oil production is likely to occur sooner than many expect. Some think it could be happening now, or in just a few short years. But whether it is 5 years away or 25 years away, it is clear we have to end our addiction to oil. Because with oil prices set to rise, the likelihood of wars and conflicts over oil increases. A large scale switch to renewables is a move towards peace, and away from the chaos and conflict that oil exploration brings with it. And our message is: no to the human rights abuses that go along with oil exploration, and no to oil wars. (wild applause)
Let me finish by saying that there are some people who say that demonstrations like this make no difference, there was even an article in yesterday’s Guardian saying that people could do better by staying at home. (Cries of “rubbish” and boos from the crowd.). Yes – personal action is important, but we need a political framework of legally binding targets that mean that everybody moves in that direction. So we will go on fighting until we succeed, good on you all for being here, and we will make a difference!
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