The Speaker
Sunday, 21 July 2024 – 08:56
Photo Credit: Jason Peper

Extinction Rebellion; our saviours or just a headache?

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

Of course, I believe climate change is a massive issue. In fact, it is the largest issue we will ever face in our lifetimes. You will not catch me saying otherwise. End of.

However, one part of me can not help but think that ‘Extinction Rebellion’ is just a massive headache. When I first heard about the group I was impressed – some could say inspired. They shut down London and made their message clear. We need to act to save our climate. Now.

I could not agree more, however, things seem to be getting more extreme. I respect the right to protest, it’s a fundamental right. Online campaigns, brilliant. Gatherings outside parliament, again brilliant. Drone Strikes, unacceptable. Yes, planes are big, produce tonnes and tonnes of Co2, and create noise and air pollution. Nevertheless, this does not warrant threatening people’s safety.

We need to tackle the issue at hand. It’s not the people travelling it’s the companies facilitating it.

People work hard. They save up to go away and enjoy themselves, often slaving away for months trying to save to go away. Extinction Rebellion is getting ordinary people caught in the middle. I cannot sympathise with anyone who tries to do this.

Now as I said, climate change is a big, very important issue – it will involve arguably the largest shift in consumer habits we have ever seen. It will not be easy, but it is necessary. As a country, we need the capacity to facilities trade and transport. I believe Heathrow is a vital piece of national infrastructure and it should be expanded.

Although I am torn… We do need to consider the impacts it will have. Extinction Rebellion should not be looking to hold up the airport and fight against expansion. Rather it should be lobbying the industry, Airbus and other manufacturers. Forcing the government to pour research into low carbon air travel and expanding our high-speed rail network. People will always need to travel. The demand is inelastic. We need to be tackling the issue constructively. Investing in our public transport infrastructure…using HS2 as a way of connecting our major cities in a low carbon form.

Instead, we see Extinction Rebellion threatening to hold up Heathrow. Trying to create a massive economic upset by disrupting critical infrastructure and being rather negative about the whole thing. Climate change is awful, but it will also create thousands of green sector jobs and revolutionise the way we go about our lives. Everything we do to lessen the effects will have a positive effect. Cleaner air, better health. Cleaner water, better health. Our health is going to get better as we tackle these issues, so why do we have to be so negative? Extinction Rebellion has done a good job making the issues known, however, the public will only remain interested so long. After a time they will just get angry with the disruptions. We need to keep people interested and motivated, this involves being positive and looking constructively at what we can do.

So, thank you Extinction Rebellion for raising the issue. Spreading the message. But please, do not go too far. Let’s keep the message short and make it a positive one. Let’s lead the world on dealing with climate change and create thousands of green sector jobs along the way.

Photo Credit: Jason Peper

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