Young People vs UK Government
This weekend marks five years since the historic Paris Climate Agreement and sees legal action group Plan B, alongside three young people, take the UK Government to court over its failure to tackle the climate crisis.
Under the 2015 Paris agreement, 196 countries agreed to hold global temperatures ‘well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C’. To be held accountable, governments signed non-binding national plans called nationally determined contributions – NDCs, which would be revised every five years.
How much progress has the UK really made since 2015?
At the Climate Ambition Summit this weekend, the new commitments put forward are disappointing. Although Boris Johnson pledged on Friday to end UK taxpayer-funded support for fossil fuel projects overseas, this is after months of pressure from campaigners and about £21bn of fossil fuel funding in the last four years. If this rate of progress is congratulated, the climate ‘ambition’ will remain merely aspirational.
Johnson also pledged to cut emissions by 68 per cent by 2030. His ’10-point plan’ includes creating up to 250,000 jobs, investing in hydrogen and nuclear energy and planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year. However, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas condemned the plan as vague and underpowered. It seems the UK is continuing to seek refuge in technological solutions as opposed to targeted action. Furthermore, the UK is forgetting that the climate crisis is a global crisis, and we cannot solve this alone. Rishi Sunak’s latest spending review saw a cut to overseas aid. This move will make it increasingly difficult to help poorer countries meet their climate commitments and sends a signal of the UK’s lack of solidarity within a global crisis.
It seems the UK is continuing to seek refuge in technological solutions as opposed to targeted action
The UK business secretary, Alok Sharma, will chair the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow next November. He has urged countries to propose their new plans before Cop26, stating ‘The choices we make in the year ahead will determine whether we unleash a tidal wave of climate catastrophe on generations to come’.
Furthermore, António Guterres, UN secretary-general, has called on all world leaders to declare climate emergencies. 38 countries have already declared states of emergency, but as economies continue to recover from the impact of coronavirus, G20 countries are spending 50% more in stimulus packages on fossil fuels than low-carbon energy. He warns, ‘We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.’
The climate emergency is a global emergency which knows no borders or boundaries but will discriminate disproportionately on the global South. For some regions, the climate crisis is already on their doorstep. This year alone, we have seen wildfires in California, typhoons in the Philippines and cyclones in India and Bangladesh. These are becoming increasingly frequent and visible.
The COVID crisis has demonstrated that those most vulnerable are frontline workers, those in poverty and BIPOC communities. These communities are the ones that are also most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Therefore, climate justice must be at the forefront of all climate policy making. Projections for the number of climate migrants in the coming century vary, but are unequivocally alarming, estimating that the climate crisis could displace 1.2bn people by 2050.
We all have a part to play as individuals by making conscious lifestyle choices, however it is equally important to hold the government to account when it does not act in our interests.
Global Majority vs UK Government maintains that the Government’s ongoing financing of the climate crisis…constitutes a violation of the right to life
This weekend, legal action group Plan B, together with three young people and in collaboration with the Stop the Maangamizi campaign, has launched a new legal action case against the government. Global Majority vs UK Government maintains that the Government’s ongoing financing of the climate crisis and failure to develop a plan to tackle it constitutes a violation of the right to life and family life, a violation of the Paris Agreement and a violation of international law. One claimant, 23 year old Adetola Onamade, said:
‘We, as young people of the global majority, have witnessed the UK government fail to prepare and protect the most vulnerable in our communities, disproportionately on the frontlines of Covid-19. This is no different to its flippant approach to the international risks of this climate crisis. The UK, with its predominant wealth dependent on the fossil fuels of the Industrial Revolution, had a historic responsibility to transition its economy. To not repeat the crimes of colonialism and erasure of whole cultures, communities and families’.
Alongside Plan B Earth, a group of young people, myself included, are working to promote the case and collect witness statement videos. The courts need to know that this is a generation’s lawsuit – and we want to live in dignity and that we don’t want to live knowing that our futures as well as our friends, families and heritage communities in the global South are being sacrificed for short term economic goals. Under the Human Rights Act, we have the right to life, family life and the government has international obligations to stop the genocide and ecocide of the Global Majority.
As young people, we all have a story to tell about how we have been affected by the climate crisis, imperialism, white supremacy and the education system. Climate litigations around the world are on the rise and this is our chance to speak directly to power.
2020 has made clear the unquestionable intersections between the current health crisis and structural inequalities based on a history of colonialism and imperialism. It has also shown the power of community action and protest movements. To make a witness statement to be used on social media and in the courts, follow these guidelines.
Stay updated on the case by following @globalmajorityvs @youngpeoplevs @planbearth on Instagram, and @planB_earth on Twitter.
Hashtags: #RightToLife #IAmWitness #Stop4CGenocide #ClimateEmergency #YoungPeopleVs #GlobalMajorityVs