Once the BBC had received enough complaints to acknowledge that closing five of London’s main bridges was worth a mention on the news (ironically finding protests at high fuel prices in France more interesting), Extinction Rebellion has had few grounds for complaint about the coverage of its activities. For those who have not picked up the messages, XR is a newly formed ‘organisation’ concentrating on non-violent direct action (NVDA) out of frustration that no alternative forms of action or lobbying appears to be proportionate to the urgency of the climate crisis [ie the need to reduce emissions so that global temperatures rise by no more than 1.5degrees from 1992 levels – over 1 degree of which has already occurred, and current pledges are aimed at over 3 degrees]. The scale of the challenge can be illustrated by relying on the assumption that 350parts of carbon per million (ppm) equates to the once assumed to be safe level of warming of 2 degrees warming.
There are currently over 400ppm and, even if the IPCC recommendation to start to be reaching zero emissions by about 2032 were achieved, the level of carbon would be well over 450ppm and possibly 500ppm. It is starting to become very clear that some form of untried and untested carbon capture and negative carbon technologies will be required to return to the level below the 350ppm, that equates to 1.5degrees of warming.
Despite some reluctance to engage in anything so mainstream and inactive as land use planning, a local branch of XR has seen the sense in making representations on a local development plan, given that about half of future emissions could be eliminated were the necessary policies put in place (and subsequently applied/enforced). If XR can do it, there should be more people explaining to local councils and inspectors that development plans that would not be consistent with 1.5 degrees of warming, as recommended by the IPCC, could not possibly be found to be ‘sound’. Only Plans that would achieve ‘sustainable development’; creating a future where all future generations can meet their needs can be sound. Planning for a future with any more than 350ppm of carbon in the atmosphere would amount to Mutually Assured Destruction. Approaching Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) it is worth considering that on its current course, climate change threatens to be no less lethal than the previous and still existing methods of mass destruction.