“It’s time to pick a side”: Activists to “force” action on climate emergency

Elliot Chappell
© Diana Vucane/Shutterstock.com

Green New Deal Rising activists have declared that they will “force” politicians to take action to prevent the climate emergency and have pledged to “take on the system and build a world in which we can thrive”.

The newly launched group, which shared a short video on social media this morning, has said it plans to “disrupt the political system” to push climate change back up the agenda.

“We’ve grown up in a time of crisis, austerity, the pandemic, climate collapse. Floods destroy lives from Doncaster to Dhaka. We see police brutality in Baltimore and Brixton. Politicians run scared or side with the corporations,” viewers were told.

“Billionaires profit from our planet’s destruction. Even our oceans are burning. This is no accident. The system is designed this way. It’s built to exploit. It feeds on apathy. Who cares? We do.”

Made up of people aged between 16 and 35, the organisation describes itself as a “ten year game-changing plan to stop climate change” committed to securing a green new deal with five goals: decarbonising; ensuring a just transition; transforming the economy; protecting and restoring habitats; and promoting social justice.

“We rise and strike for the climate. We rise for Black lives in our millions. We rise against injustice. We rise for freedom. Anything that is made can be remade. We will build a world in which we can thrive. This is the story of our generation; young people of all races, places, ages and backgrounds, all of us together. We care for our planet. We care for each other. We care enough to fight for our future.

“The green new deal is our plan to stop the climate crisis, take on the system and build a world in which we can thrive. We say no more excuses. Nowhere to hide. We’re going to turn up the heat, because the clock is ticking. Our future is burning and it’s time to pick a side.”

GND Rising has declared it is supporting the campaign for a green new deal bill, launched by Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Clive Lewis in 2019, as “the first step to getting GND policies passed in parliament”.

Resharing the clip on social media, Lewis urged his followers to join and get involved with GND Rising. Lucas tweeted: “So inspired by young people coming together to shape the future with a #GreenNewDeal for a world in which all can thrive. I’ll be doing what I can to make sure their voices are heard.”

Several other Labour figures have tweeted in support of the group today. Also resharing the video on Twitter this morning, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described GND Rising as a “hugely significant new initiative”.

“My generation grew up in a time of crisis, from austerity to the pandemic, to climate collapse. This rigged system is killing our planet and destroying our future. It’s time to pick a side,” Labour MP for Coventry South Zarah Sultana wrote.

Momentum co-chair Gaya Sriskanthan told LabourList: “Climate collapse is the challenge of our times. A broken political and economic system has brought us to the brink of catastrophe, but there is a wave of dynamic and progressive organisations fighting for transformative change.

“We welcome the addition of Green New Deal Rising to this growing network of organisations, and with our allies at Labour for a Green New Deal we look forward to working together to challenge the inaction of the political class and push the Green New Deal up the political agenda. Together we are going to organise to demand the future we need.”

Jess Barnard, chair of Young Labour, tweeted: “Exploitative billionaires, corrupt politicians and a broken capitalist system that has gambled with our lives. Young people getting organised and leading the struggle against the causes of climate breakdown is our fighting chance.”

Labour for a Green New Deal also pledged its support for GND Rising, writing: “It’s good to see Starmer recommit to rapid decarbonisation, but to deliver a genuinely socialist green new deal we need the strongest possible movement keeping up the pressure both in and outside of the Labour Party rose.”

Keir Starmer has ramped up criticism of the government over climate action in recent days. Writing in The Guardian earlier this week, he accused Boris Johnson of being “missing in action” on the climate emergency.

He has called for a “hard-edged timetable” for the cessation of oil and gas exploration, revealing that Labour would not support the proposed Cambo oilfield development 77 miles north-west of Shetland.

Starmer also committed the party to achieving the “substantial majority” of greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2030 during an interview with The Independent on Tuesday, a pledge made by the previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Asked if he stood by his predecessor’s target, the Labour leader said: “Absolutely. Exactly the same as was in our 2019 manifesto. So the ambition – and not just the ambition, the determination and the commitment – of the Labour Party on the green new deal is just as strong now.”

His party set out policies for a cleaner economy focusing on the UK manufacturing sector last November, calling for a rapid stimulus package of at least £30bn over the next 18 months with dedicated funding to low-carbon industries.

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