Extinction Rebellion campaigners held a two-hour silent vigil in Saltford today “as a wake for the dying planet”.
The small group of members were dressed in black, some carrying placards and others a coffin. They marched slowly along Wedmore Road to Saltford Hall where North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was due to hold a surgery for constituents.
The MP saw the protest when he arrived by car. One of the constituents he had an appointment with was Rich Prior from Keynsham, who is an Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Christian Climate Action activist.
Mr Prior, who led today’s protest march slowly banging a drum, arranged to meet him saying: “We are tired of waiting for answers to the points we’ve raised in our letters to him. It’s clear this critical subject is not high on his agenda. He just doesn’t understand the urgency. The world is already seeing the effects of climate change, sooner than scientists had predicted.”
At his meeting with the MP, Mr Prior asked him to back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which is now before Parliament. Mr Prior also highlighted the Pope’s call for urgent climate action to Mr Rees-Mogg, who is a committed Catholic, and spoke to him about the problems that local farmers are facing in a year which has seen the hottest, wettest and driest months on record.
Mr Prior said that Mr Rees-Mogg was polite and listened to what he had to say but seemed “complacent”. The MP, who is also the Leader of the House of Commons, said that he would not be backing the CEE Bill as the Government has its own Climate Bill. Mr Prior said the MP also told him that we are doing better than some other countries in tackling climate change and that he speaks to the National Farmers’ Union about issues.
Mr Prior said the Government’s own Bill does not go far enough and that because of our contribution to the Industrial Revolution, our carbon footprint is the second worst of anywhere in the world and the UK has a “debt” to repay for its past emissions.
Mr Prior said: “Mr Rees-Mogg doesn’t seem to grasp the enormity of the problem facing us. He must be aware that local farmers, his constituents, are already having to adapt to expecting lower yields and changing the crops they grow due to extremes of weather. Wheat harvests are down a staggering 40% this year.”
Among those taking part in this morning’s demonstration was Vicki Youdan from Keynsham, left, and her four-year-old daughter Cassidy.
She said she was taking part for her daughter’s sake: “I want to leave a legacy of doing what I can peacefully and with respect for the political process.”
She hoped Mr Rees-Mogg would find time to examine the Bill which has cross-party support from 70 MPs.
What is the CEE Bill?
On 2nd September, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tabled the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in Parliament, calling on the Government to take immediate and radical action to address the climate emergency.
Put together with the drafted with the contributions of experts, the Bill has gained support from MPs from seven political parties. One of the co-sponsors is Bath’s Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse.
The Bill aims to provide a framework for the UK to meet its commitments to the UN 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which calls on countries to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
As part of this framework, the Government is being asked to take real action to protect and restore the UK’s biodiversity and slash carbon emissions, with an emergency Citizens’ Assembly set up to guide action.
Find out more at www.ceebill.uk/