Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The UK parliament has caved in to Extinction Rebellion climate protests and declared a climate emergency.
After weeks of protests, UK becomes first country to declare ‘climate emergency’
THURSDAY 2 MAY 2019 6:59PM
The UK has become the first country in the world to declare a national climate emergency following protests and acts of civil disobedience from a grassroots environmental group that launched in October.
The Extinction Rebellion has changed the paradigm of climate protests, according to Leo Barasi, the author of Climate Majority, a book investigating how to shift public opinion about climate change.
He’s also written a Master’s thesis on whether climate protests will ever convince lawmakers to act on climate change (his conclusion, they wouldn’t).
“I found that extreme weather sometimes influences public opinion, while UN climate conferences and IPCC reports often trigger media coverage and parliamentary debates,” Barasi wrote on his blog.
“But climate protests generally have little direct effect on any of these.”
For 10 days in April, tens of thousands of people committed acts of civil disobedience, including blocking traffic across the Thames, gluing themselves onto trains, graffiting the headquarters of oil giant Shell, and blockading the stock exchange.
And it apparently worked: The protests led to two separate parliamentary debates, and these were capped this week by the successful climate emergency motion.
How did the protests work where others have failed?
But showing the protests have worked doesn’t help explain why this happened now, in April 2019, after apparently failing every other time.
One theory is that the climate denial movement has run its course.
Richard Black, a former BBC environment correspondent and author of Denied: the Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism, told the Guardian the BBC appears to have stopped giving air time to climate deniers to ‘balance’ the debate.
Mainstream media is now taking the issue seriously, he said: “The facts have changed. And in the end, if you want to be credible you have to go with the facts.”
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/uk-becomes-first-country-in-world-to-declare-climate-emergency/11074582
The government funded BBC dominates UK broadcast media, so their decision in 2007 to exclude competing viewpoints may have had a significant impact on public opinion.
British MP Michael Gove responded by agreeing there is a climate emergency (an apparent change from his previous position when he was negotiating with climate protestors). According to Breitbart Gove said;
“I want to make it clear that on this side of the House we recognise that this situation IS an emergency, it IS a crisis, and it IS a threat that all of us have to meet.”Read more: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/05/01/goves-green-cant-is-a-betrayal-of-conservative-principles/
The UK does not have a constitutional right to free speech – in my opinion, any escalation of government sanctions against climate skeptics for the duration of the “climate emergency” could mean difficult times ahead for climate skeptics based in Britain.