On 8 May, ClientEarth will join families and many others to challenge David Cameron to explain why his government has spent its first year in office going backwards on climate change. They will bring the message home in an unusual style: marching backwards down Whitehall precisely one year after the Conservative government took office.
Marching backwards down Whitehall
The action will bring to the fore the different ways the government has backtracked on climate action with the harmful impacts its policies are having today. Colourful performances will bring the issues to life and challenge David Cameron and George Osborne to live up to past promises.
Campaigners will highlight the government’s short-sighted infrastructure policy, including spending a planned £15 billion on new roads, while bus services are cut.
As well as protesting the government’s backwards steps on climate change, ClientEarth will highlight its failure to tackle air pollution.
“Air pollution is now a public health crisis across our country with a health impact equivalent to 40,000 early deaths each year. Children and the elderly arethe most affected by breathing toxic and illegal air,” explains James Thornton, CEO of environmental lawyers ClientEarth. “We will take the government back to court because of its failure to clean up the air we breathe and we are going to show them people want action.”
A particular issue in London is the threat of a new runway at Heathrow. This is expected to breach the UK’s climate limits, producing the same carbon emissions as the whole of Kenya, as well as bringing noise and air pollution to the local area.
Another health concern for both families and older people is the impact of cold and damp homes. The UK’s houses are some of the worst insulated in Europe but funding cuts for energy-saving measures mean the rate of improvement is just a fifth of what it used to be.
Protestors will assemble at Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square from 12pm on 8 May.
The protest is supported by organisations including Biofuelwatch, Campaign against Climate Change, Campaign for Better Transport, ClientEarth, Climate Revolution, Fuel Poverty Action, Global Justice Now, HACAN, Plane Stupid, Reclaim the Power, the Solar Trade Association, Talk Fracking, and Time to Cycle. Speakers will include the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett.
Other ‘Going Backwards’ protests will be taking place the same weekend in cities including Bristol, Leicester, Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester.
This post was updated on 21 December 2016 to better reflect research into the health impacts of air pollution. Air pollution and your health – what are the facts?