LONDON, UK, October 12, 2009 (ENS) – Fifty-five Greenpeace volunteers Sunday scaled the walls of the Houses of Parliament and occupied the roof to call for a new style of politics in Britain, one capable of rising to meet the challenge of climate change.
This morning, 31 volunteers are still occupying the roof, 24 came down last night and were arrested. All have been bailed out.
Today, Members of Parliament returned from their summer break and the government’s Committee on Climate Change published a progress report on UK carbon emissions.
The committee makes it clear that Britain is not doing enough to meet its commitments, and says that a “step change” in emissions cuts is needed.
The activists say with just 60 days go until the critical climate summit in Copenhagen – which faces a chance of failure – Britain has yet to show true commitment to making the process a success.
The climbers unfurled a banner on the roof of the Palace of Westminster’s Great Hall which says: “Change The Politics, Save The Climate.”
One of the Greenpeacers, Anna Jones, said, “We’ve climbed onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament because too many of the politicians and parties who work in this building are failing us all on climate change. The clock’s ticking down to the big climate summit in Copenhagen, but politicians are still treating the most important issue of our time as a political plaything.”
“We need a green economy that will create jobs and bring prosperity while helping us beat climate change,” said Jones. “We need politicians to be fighting for the next generation, not just the next election.”
The volunteers gained access to the roof by passing modified ladders through the railings. Before breaching security they told police officers exactly who they were and made it clear that they were about to embark on a peaceful protest. Five of the volunteers – all of them experienced rope access experts – then climbed up the building’s 15 meter (46 foot) lightning conductor and are now out of reach of security guards on the roof’s apex, where they plan to stay until this afternoon. The other 50 protesters perched on a lower roof equipped with tents and enough food and water.
In an open letter to political leaders calling for climate action, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK John Sauven wrote, “The threat of climate change is so grave that it requires radical action and we believe that what we are doing here today is necessary to send a clear message to the country’s politicians. If we don’t change the politics and take real action here and internationally we will lose our chance to save the climate.”
Inside the chambers of government, MPs received the first annual report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change, published today. The report concludes that a step change is required in the pace of UK emissions reduction to meet carbon budgets, and that in some areas, new policy approaches will be required to deliver the Governments Low Carbon Transition Plan, announced in July.
Lord Turner, who chairs the Committee on Climate Change, said, “With the carbon budgets in place, we now need to achieve a step change in the pace of emissions reduction. The government needs to build on its Low Carbon Transition Plan and put in place a comprehensive delivery framework.”
“What we have proposed is achievable and affordable but action needs to be taken now if we are to make our contribution to combating climate change,” he said.
Lord Nicholas Stern, the economist who authored the Stern Review showing that the costs of responding to climate change will grow the longer humans delay, welcomed the Committee’s report.
“The Committee on Climate Change has produced a report which charts both the way forward in monitoring targets, emissions and policies and shows what will be required to achieve the necessary emissions reductions,” Lord Stern said. “It is a fine piece of work, which should be supported across the political spectrum and which will enhance the UK’s role in fostering global understanding and agreement.”
Commenting on the first annual report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change, Friends of the Earth Executive Director Andy Atkins said, “The Committee is right to be concerned about government action on climate change.
“Crucial strategies on fossil fuels, aviation and energy infrastructure, due out shortly, will demonstrate whether or not the government has heeded the Committee’s warnings,” Atkins said. “These National Policy Statements must clearly set out their carbon impacts and how they will deliver on the UK’s carbon budgets. Failure to do so will seriously undermine the government’s international leadership on climate change.”
Atkins said, “Developing the UK’s huge renewable energy potential and slashing energy waste will bring huge economic benefits, deliver new green jobs and put Britain at the forefront of securing a safer, cleaner future for us all.”