STATEMENT FROM EXTINCTION REBELLION: PHILIP HAMMOND’S LETTER TO THERESA MAY

We cannot go on talking about the price of transitioning to a carbon free economy in solely monetary terms. We need to talk about the true cost of inaction on the climate and ecological emergency: whether our children get to live into old age. Isn’t protecting them worth everything we’ve got?

Isn’t life on Earth worth more than all the money in the banks? Remember back in 2011 the Eurozone bailout fund for the banks was 1 trillion euros. [1]

Yes it will be expensive but the monetary cost pales in comparison to the price of firefighting the environmental and social catastrophes that will become ever more frequent if we do not act now. We will pay for delay with the lives and livelihoods of countless millions.

Aiming for 2050 would condemn us to a devastating future of hunger and social collapse, we must act now: 2050 is too late. We need a mobilisation of and for society, plus a redesign of the economy, the likes of which the UK has not seen since the Second World War and we need it to be guided by a Citizens’ Assembly made up of people from all over the country.

We should have done this a long time ago when the people from island nations and the poorest parts of the world started telling us something was badly wrong. We didn’t, but we can still choose to do the right thing and act decisively now. The UK can be an example of doing what is necessary, not what is ‘feasible’. This is a time for leadership and for thinking big.

There is another side to this discussion of costs and disruptions to the economy: all that we stand to gain from stepping up to tackle this emergency. Thousands of jobs could be created that could revive deindustrialised parts of the UK. Rewilding and sustainable agriculture projects could begin to pull our ecosystem back from the brink. Thousands of lives could be saved as a result of breathing clean air, leading to reduced cost to the NHS.

Think of the time when we can tell our children: yes, the situation is bad, but we are giving it everything we’ve got because the world matters, because life matters, because you matter.

Extinction Rebellion Legal Strategy Coordinator Tim Crossland says:

“The country’s leading economists (such as Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, and Lord Stern, former Chief Economist to the World Bank) have continually emphasised that the costs of delayed action vastly outweigh the cost of action that is taken in time. The Environment Agency has highlighted the risk of a collapse in property prices as flood risk makes more and more property uninsurable.

“We’re in a climate emergency and approaching an economic (as well as climatic and political) tipping point. If we don’t act as if the emergency is real, £1 trillion will soon cease to have any meaning at all. Once the costs of climate damage  exceed economic growth we face economic collapse and mass starvation. The Chancellor’s attempted procrastination is criminally irresponsible and economically illiterate.”

Extinction Rebellion Political Strategy Co-coordinator Jamie Kelsey Fry says:

“Philip Hammond is exhibiting the fact that the current political and economic system does not have the capacity to address the existential threat of the climate and ecological emergency we are facing. This indicates that the third demand of Extinction Rebellion is increasingly necessary.”

Extinction Rebellion Political Strategy Co-cordinator Sarah Lunnon says:

“Our current system of oppositional politics means governments find themselves unable to take the radical action required to address the twin emergencies of global heating and ecological collapse. Governments judge the risk of the Opposition using the change for political gain to be too great. A Citizens’ Assembly provides us, the people, with a way to request radical change, and a request from the people gives a legitimacy to government to act, and allows for cross party support. To carry on failing to act is no longer an option. Time for a Citizens’ Assembly.”
[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15478580




Notes to editors

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

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