Edinburgh Northern and Leith CLP organised a public meeting at Leith Community Education Centre on Sunday 8 September 2019.
An open invitation was made to all to come and discuss the challenges presented by the Climate Emergency and the steps we must take to address it.
The event was chaired by Gordon Munro, Councillor for Leith Ward and Edinburgh North & Leith’s candidate for Westminster.
Invited speakers were Sandra Brown, of Extinction Rebellion and David Somervell, Associate at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and former Sustainability Adviser to the University of Edinburgh.
Gordon Munro opened with this introduction:
Good afternoon and thank you for taking the time to work together this afternoon.
My name is Gordon Munro and I’m the Labour Councillor for Leith Ward and PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) as a Labour and Co-operative candidate for the next General Election.
I would contend that we have known about environmental impact since Blake’s “Jerusalem” which referred to ‘dark satanic mills’. It was the Industrial Revolution that precipitated and accelerated global environmental change as science now affirms.
Recognition of that reality led to joint international action as a follow up to the earlier Brandt report with a new report in 1987. It was international agreement on the knowledge that led to the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future”, with its Tokyo declaration on sustainable development as an approach to progress which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
We have agreed the Kyoto protocol and the Paris accords. Al Gore has written about “Earth in the balance” and “An Inconvenient Truth”. We have the stark warning from James Lovelock that we face extinction as a species. Yet we still don’t heed the warnings.
That is why Greta Thunberg (born after all these ‘agreements’, warnings, scientific reports backing up the warnings and calving glaciers in Antarctica) and her generation are on Climate Strike. That is why this gathering is titled “Fighting the Climate Apocalypse”.
Speaking at Davos in January this year Greta Thunberg said:
“Our house is on fire. I am here to say – Our house is on fire.”
According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than 12 years away from being unable to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place – including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
The scale of the task is intimidating but is not insurmountable. We need to recall the exhortation from Edinburgh man Patrick Geddes to “Think Global. Act Local”. That is why we are here.
My Party, the Labour Party, is working on a “Green New Deal”. We are serious about this and this was shown by the Parliamentary party working to get Westminster to declare a Climate Emergency. Good – but not enough.
As Greta points out, it is action that is needed. That is why the planned National Transformation Fund will be used to fund a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ with a Sustainable Investment Board making sure that this meets climate change targets. We are talking about a £250bn fund that will be used at both micro level for investment (for example in retro-fitting solar panels on homes reducing the impact of the built environment) to macro schemes (such as large scale tidal projects in the Bristol Wash or Mersey) to harness the energy for power generation. It is also why the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has asked representatives from X-R (Extinction Rebellion) to brief his Shadow Treasury team on their assessment of the climate change crisis and their ideas on how to address it. This is welcome and necessary input.
At a local level your Council has a Solar Energy Co-operative, has supported the Harlow Hydro energy project, declared a climate emergency and given tentative support to the school climate strikers.
We need to think about how we travel about the city, what we produce, what we consume, what we need and what we throw away.
We are in a real fight and the science backs it up. I repeat the IPCC say we have less than 12 years from being unable to undo our mistakes.
Collective collaboration and individual action are part of the solution. We need to act together. We have a World to win.