UK Youth Climate Activists Stage Silent Protest in Westminster
Today at 14.30hrs, activists from the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) will take part in a silent protest in Parliament Square, London. Their aim is to demonstrate how youth voices, local democracy and communities have been ignored in the fracking debate, with central government being the decision maker in conjunction with lobbying pressure from the oil and gas industry.
Youth activist members will be symbolics sealing their mouths with black tape, in a silent protest, representing the deliberate repression of concerned voices, and the influence of industry lobbying on government decisions and policies.
A campaigner with UKYCC, Chirsty McFadyen, said:
“We are here today to show that youth and community voices matter, but that they have been unjustly silenced for years when it comes to fracking.”
The protest comes in the wake of UKYCC’s continued efforts to secure a meeting with Claire Perry MP – the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth – in order to discuss the UK government’s plans to force through fracking in the UK.
In October 2018, Perry stated in an email to a representative of UKYCC, that she was unable to meet with them, due to “a high volume of invites” and a “heavily committed” diary. Yet, she has managed to find time in her schedule to network with fracking companies Cuadrilla, INEOS, iGas and Third Energy, and moreover, Perry spectacularly failed to record this meeting in the official transparency register.
At the time, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said:
“You can see why the government has attempted to withhold information about this meeting, as the notes reveal they are working hand in glove with the fracking industry to weaken regulations and planning protections to prop up an industry which the companies themselves acknowledge is commercially difficult.“ Not content with undermining the UK’s own climate change targets, the government seem intent on wrecking the efforts of other countries by exporting the ‘UK model’ of fracking around the world.”
Members of UKYCC also plan to deliver 500 letters to Claire Perry, as part of their campaign against fracking. The letters have been undersigned by members of the public who are calling for an end to fracking.
This protest is timely and comes amongst a wave of direct action from the campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, who kick off two weeks of civil disobedience in central London, beginning on Monday 15 April 2019.
The UK government is still enamoured with fracking as a “bridge” to a low carbon future, conveniently ignoring that fracking is still a dirty fossil fuel and will in no way help the climate crisis we currently face. The Conservatives have done their best to kill off a renewable revolution in this country, favouring the fossil fuel lobby with tax breaks and continual regulation easing for their benefit.
Public support for fracking has never materialised: just 13% of respondents to the government’s latest BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker (Wave 28) stated they supported fracking, compared with 77% support for renewable energy.
Fossil fuel burning, specifically fracking, in the USA has been reported as a contributor to the atmospheric rise in methane levels, with the industry under-reporting methane leakage as they pushed for ‘natural gas’ to be the climate change solution.
Here in the UK, Cuadrilla’s attempts at fracking have seen large methane spikes from leakage enter the atmosphere, as workers failed to burn the gas that was released, and it resulted in the cold-venting of gas into the air.
Zoe Rasbash of UKYCC said:
“Fracking makes no sense for the world we live in. Research has shown that if the government proceeds with their fracking plans, they will be taking actions that cause the same CO2 emissions as putting 300 million new cars on the road. Why is this even being considered, when we must be doing all we can to reduce emissions?”
Joe Redfern, a member of UKYCC said:
“Fracking causes air and noise pollution, as well as the risk of earth tremors, which of course impacts local residents. Local communities and councils absolutely must be listened to.”
The UK Youth Climate Coalition highlights the need for the participation of local communities and councils in decision-making processes and they are calling for an end to fracking in the UK.
They are urging the government to bring forward a renewable energy revolution to ensure climate targets are met and to “prioritise community and environmental well-being, which helps us achieve climate targets, and which are mobilised through democratic decision-making processes.”