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“Change is a necessity” – the Corbyn Project and the centrality of the environment

Many of us in Red-Green Labour tuned in on Sunday January 17th to join the launch of the Project for Peace and Justice inspired by Jeremy Corbyn.

We are pleased to see the focus on the environment and the commitment to build on the Green New Deal and adapt it to a post-Covid world.

As part of this we would urge the Project to take a lead in building for actions around the COP26 in November and ensure a sea of Labour and trade union branch banners in Glasgow…

16 year old climate justice activist Scarlett Westbrook spoke powerfully at the online rally and we reproduce her speech below (thanks to Labour Hub)

“My name is Scarlett, I’m 16 years old, and I’m a leading climate justice activist, being a spokesperson at the UK Student Climate Network and Labour for a Green New Deal. I’m also the Head of Political Engagement at Teach the Future , a student-led campaign to transform the education system to remove access barriers and incorporate climate justice education into every single aspect of education, which is also the organisation behind the first ever student- written bill, the English Climate Emergency Education Act.

In 2018 I became the youngest person in the world to have an A level in Government and Politics, which I self-taught at 13 years old, specialising in British climate and education policy. I then went on to be one of the organisers of the school climate strikes – protests which helped lead to the British government declaring a national climate emergency.

Politics, by definition, is the process by which conflict is resolved, and there is no bigger conflict or crisis than the climate crisis. Yet, many in Westminster, and in governments across the world, are failing to realise this, as demonstrated by unambitious decarbonisation targets, cuts to international financial aid budgets and a lack of a comprehensive Green New Deal. Therefore, their overlooking of the climate crisis is nothing short of a failure to do their jobs – which is why young people have taken a stand.

From the recent devastating floods in the Philippines, to the Sahara spreads, forests on fire in Australia and droughts in Dhaka, the climate crisis means that we’re seeing, and going to see, more frequent natural disasters with exacerbated severity, with the impacts being felt the hardest by the least privileged.

Although everyone will be affected by its impacts, it is those in low to middle-income countries who will be impacted disproportionately. A large part of this is due to the historic imprint of colonialism, whereby Britain, and many other western countries, stole resources, massacred populations, destroyed and stunted those countries’ economic capacities, limiting their response to the climate crisis the West predominantly contributed to.

This is why our response to the climate crisis must be internationalist and put social justice at its heart. We must pay back our historic colonial debt and recognise the interdependencies of climate change, human rights, colonialism, inequality and corporate power, self-determination and democracy, which is why this inspiring project has been set up.

The climate crisis is a class struggle, a struggle against racism, an ecological struggle, a health struggle, an education struggle, but more importantly it’s your struggle. Green jobs aren’t just limited to roles that require hard hats – every worker that puts people over profit is a worker contributing to a green and just economy.

We must call for an international Green New Deal, to cohesively address all of these issues. The Green New Deal is a ten year, government-led mobilisation to rapidly phase out fossil fuels while also solving the enormous inequality divide present in society, creating millions of unionised, secure and well-paid jobs, amongst so much more, fundamentally achieving climate justice.

The climate crisis isn’t a coincidence – it was crafted by extractive systems of capitalism and colonialism, spearheaded by elites with no incentive to stop their destruction, and every incentive to continue it, so for us to truly engage in resistance, surely we must reject these notions of corporate-driven individualism?

As crisis is exploited for capital gain, we must unite all those who’ve lost out, to campaign together for a new way of running the economy that puts people first, creating intersectional alliances across borders, connecting indigenous movements in Latin America with fracking protestors in Lancashire, divestment campaigners in the Netherlands with clean air activists in Kashmir. Together we will take a stand against disaster capitalism and the climate crisis, and lead the way towards a future that replaces corporate greed with people power.

Change is not just a necessity – it’s an inevitability that we can create together.”


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