Sophie Reaville

Despite the huge crackdown on the environmental movement in many countries, including our own, it continues to fight for the safety of our planet with over 6 million people taking to the streets in the last week of September this year.

We are beginning to see an alarming silencing of climate change protests; in London for example, Extinction Rebellion, a key group of environmental activists, has been banned from organising any protests in London, despite the fact that they were all non-violent. In Columbia, a country that is greatly affected by climate change, but has done almost nothing to contribute to it, 734 people have died this year due to a crack down on environmental activism; and in Russia where protesting en masse is forbidden, students and young people are obliged to take turns in solo protests rather than voice their views as a whole. 

More strikingly, despite these protests, we are still seeing hugely important public figures in complete denial about the climate crisis altogether. In 2017, President Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and funding large fossil fuel projects instead. Equally alarming is this survey, conducted in 2014 and published in the New York Times in 2015,  asking different countries whether they thought Climate change was caused largely by human activity or not. The results are highly distressing, with Great Britain only second from the bottom, above the US.

In Trump’s speech announcing the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Accord, he stated that being part of the agreement was deeply diminishing for the US economy and disadvantageous for the American people. This is not only a prime example of denial, but shows us the exact root cause of climate change in the first place.

The protests that have been happening across our planet, in order to save it, are no longer just about paper straws and cycling to work. Although these small things help of course, that is not where the problem lies. The only way we can drastically stop Climate Change from continuing to worsen is by penalising the massive corporations, and markedly changing political ideologies. In fact, in my view, if we can manage to limit climate change and possibly cure our planet from it, there are many other amazing things we could do as a global society, for example closing the gap between rich and poor, improving lives and improving democracy as a whole. Really the problem is micro-consumerism and this constant greed that we as humans have.

As mentioned earlier, Trump seems only to care about the potential economic consequences of limiting climate change. Of course his economy will prosper more if he invests in fossil fuels, especially if huge corporations are happy to pick up the bill, but ultimately this puts our planet at risk (increasing temperatures and rising sea levels). Not to mention the fact that fossil fuels are not renewable anyway so aren’t sustainable for the US economy in the long run.

President Trump announced US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017

Is this what we want, all for a few extra million in the pockets of the 1% at the top of the pay scale. It’s common knowledge now that the richest countries are not contributing as much as they should be to climate change progress and organisations such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF). For example, Russia, America and Australia have reduced their contributions to the GCF, leaving developing countries to fill the hole despite the biggest contributors to climate change being those rich countries.

There is still good news however; what with Greta Thunberg continuing to win young people over and fight for the planet, more and more countries are declaring climate emergencies and making changes to their budgets in order to tackle climate change more readily. High profile celebrities are also encouraging and supporting the movement despite the risks. A few weeks ago, George Monbiot a key political writer and environmental activist was arrested in London for peacefully protesting. Jane Fonda and and Ted Danson were arrested in Washington DC for protesting also. The movement is growing and hopefully the mindset is too. We need to fight Climate change at its roots and tackle those that are in denial, because they are ultimately what is stopping us from overcoming this.

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Last Update: July 17, 2020