Sign the Stop and start demands
To: The state
This November, Boris Johnson’s government hosts one of the most important international meetings of all time – the UN climate crisis conference known as COP26. This short document hopes to bring community-based groups working on a range of local issues across the UK together, to help push the UK government to show real, justice-centred leadership in this crucial year. It summarises what UK and global climate justice movements are calling for, and what tests we could set to push for climate justice and real UK leadership as we build an intersectional and inclusive movement up to and beyond the COP26 in Glasgow. These Stop and Start demands reflect our shared understanding that there can be no climate justice without gender, racial, social, economic, health, migrant or environmental justice. We have to transform the whole system and that starts at the community-level.
Climate justice means 1.5C to stay alive
To keep our planet livable for everyone, including the most exposed and marginalised among us, we need to keep global heating to no more than 1.5C temperature increase. Our world is already nearly 1.2C hotter. Those least responsible are already paying the highest price and have the least resources to protect themselves from raging climate impacts.
The UK has an outsized historic responsibility to do its fair share and lead the world in meeting the global climate goal of 1.5C set by the Paris Agreement. Our country is disproportionately responsible for carbon emissions after profiting for over 400 years from slavery, colonialism and the continued extraction and exploitation of communities in the Global South.
We are hearing greenwash pledges to get to ‘Net Zero’ with techno-fixes and more false solutions. Net zero is NOT zero. To meet the UK’s fair share of 1.5C to stay alive, we need a rapid and justice-centred transition to get to real zero carbon emissions by 2030. That’s just 9 years from now. So how do we get there and how can we force our government to go about it equitably?
The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. There are red lines the UK government cannot cross if it wants to maintain credibility as a genuine climate leader. And it must start providing the care and reparations that communities here and around the world need to protect themselves and repair the damage already done. We hope you will join us in coming together to call for the UK to meet our stop and start demands.
Climate justice means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, right now.
Real climate leadership from the UK government would mean they STOP:
coal, oil, gas and fracking projects
giving public money to polluting industries
banks, insurers and other private financiers from supporting and profiting from fossil fuel extraction
fossil-fuelled militarisation and new infrastructure like roads and airports
debt collection from global south countries and marginalised communities within the UK
hostile migration policies
privatising public spaces and community infrastructure
Climate justice means securing finance for the care and repair our communities and planet deserve
Real climate leadership from the UK government would mean they START to:
make polluters like coal, oil and gas companies pay climate reparations
invest in good, green jobs, especially for workers transitioning from high carbon industries and projects and those hit hardest by climate impacts, Covid-19, and precarity
democratise housing, community infrastructure, and land access with strong social protection policies
pay for the climate harms that the UK drives around the world
democratise the financial industry to force a just transition
reverse cuts to Overseas Aid and promote debt relief and cancellation
democratise corporations continuing to extract and exploit abroad
create safe ways for people to migrate with dignity
giving decision making power to communities on the frontline of health, climate, economic, and social injustice
enable young people to co-create education that serves well-being for thriving and sustainable communities
Tipping Point UK
No More Exclusions
What is the UK’s fair share of climate action?
85% of the global population lives in the Global South but countries in the Global North have emitted at least three times as much climate pollution. Countries like the UK are failing to do their fair share to stop the climate crisis.
Our ‘Fair Share’ of climate action to keep us below 1.5C, is estimated to be a 200% reduction in the UK’s CO2 emissions by 2030. In other words, as close to zero emissions as possible at home while funding the equivalent amount of climate action overseas. Climate Fair Shares estimates this to be in excess of £1 trillion.
Meanwhile, the UK government just cut its Overseas Aid and is letting the biggest emitters off the hook. In 2020, during the peak of the Covid pandemic, the UK was the only country where Shell operates that it paid no tax. Instead, UK taxpayers forked out almost $100m in public money to Shell. This is back to front. Polluters must pay for climate action and a just transition. They must stop seeking to claim debt from countries that are least responsible, and also from communities within the UK that are most exposed to climate change and other injustices.
What are climate reparations?
Reparations are measures taken by a state (which in turn can legislate and redirect the resources from corporations) to redress systematic oppression and violence. Countries that experienced colonialism and slavery have fewer resources to face the impacts of the climate crisis they are least responsible for.
Climate reparations are a way to work towards guaranteeing thriving communities both in the global north and the global south. A way to ensure that everyone has the same access and rights to a healthy environment, safe housing, renewable energy (from the sun, sea and wind), free public transport, community infrastructure, universal healthcare, education, dignified employment, green spaces, rejuvenated forests and oceans, and affordable, healthy, and agroecological food. It’s time to make climate polluters pay reparations for the care, regeneration & repair that our planet, our children and our communities deserve. It also means transforming the financial industry and corporations - bringing them under democratic accountable control - so we can ensure well-being and sustainability for all people and ecosystems.
What are good green jobs and community infrastructure?
Building fossil-fuelled infrastructure is madness. New oil wells, airports and roads built now will lock us into decades more future pollution that breach our communities and planet’s safe limits. Already 91% of the world’s population lives in areas that currently exceed WHO recommended limits of air pollution. In the UK, as elsewhere, this is most concentrated in the poorest neighbourhoods and we have the highest asthma death rates in Europe.
Imagine instead a government that invested billions not on making pollution worse but on enabling everyone to have access to a healthy environment, safe housing, renewable energy (from the sun, sea and wind), free public transport, universal healthcare, education, dignified employment, green spaces, rejuvenated forests and oceans, and affordable, healthy, and agroecological food.
We need to invest in win-win infrastructure solutions for communities. For example, investing in good, green and community-owned housing can foster more equity, create retrofitting jobs, improve health, reduce energy poverty or insecurity, and reduce emissions all at once.
Public electric transport could foster more interconnected neighbourhoods and address the fact that poor and Black people are disproportionately exposed to air pollution.
Repairing our connection with land and promoting sustainable, localised and healthy food can improve health, lower pollution, and foster biodiversity.
Supporting and investing in low-carbon sectors, especially in health and social care, could ensure we recentre intergenerational well-being in our society and learn from Covid-19 to prioritise people over profit.
What does a ‘just transition’ mean?
Our government should support an equitable transition to real zero that increases well-being and creates secure, safe, green jobs.
A just transition strategy should prioritise those in need, especially young people and workers transitioning from jobs in polluting industries, to secure re-training and support thriving low carbon care work with good conditions and pay. It must also secure social protection for those who can’t work and start undoing years of austerity that has deepened hardship and reduced communities’ resilience to climate, economic and health shocks across the UK.
This also means moving away from extractive relationships with land, people and resources that are harmful to local communities and ecosystems. It means ensuring that we promote Indigenous and tribal knowledge, given that Indigenous people have protected 80% of remaining biodiversity despite only making up 5% of the population.
How will democratising corporations and bankers help?
Transnational corporations profit from health and housing inequality in the UK, and also from coal, oil and gas extraction, mining, biofuel plantations and industrial agriculture abroad. The City of London’s financial sector - from household names like Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays to shady mega-investors like BlackRock or Vanguard - all continue to bankroll and insure the corporations sucking our planet dry, harming people and nature.
Fossil fuel corporations and banks alike lobby our government to make trade and investment deals that prioritise private profit over social protection. Without corporate accountability and transparency we are in a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and climate, environmental and social standards. For example, companies can now sue states under patent agreements for trying to protect their populations from pandemics and climate change, and make it more difficult for people to access affordable medicines, green energy, or prevent farmers from saving seeds.
We need new rules that bring corporations and financiers into democratic control so that we can, together, prioritise care, regeneration and repair over profit and pollution.
Can we force the financial industry to fund a just transition?
The UK government has the power to regulate the UK’s financial sector - yet despite the scale of crises we face, no one is forcing the banks to stop funding fossil fuel companies.
Just like oil and gas companies, UK financiers like Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Blackrock and Vanguard are a high carbon industry responsible for more pollution than even Germany or Canada. However, when it comes to cutting emissions, they’re not legally required to align their activities with the UK or global climate commitments. The financial sector has also profited from austerity in the UK, driving inequality in the UK and accelerating climate impacts everywhere.
Banks and investors are doing as little on climate change as they think they can get away with. They’re still investing hundreds of billions of pounds every single year in making the climate crisis worse, and they are profiting from economic precarity.
So they need to be pushed through strong new laws to freeze any new fossil financing and instead marshall their huge financial power behind a just transition and bold climate action.
What’s ‘loss and damage’ and why should the UK pay for it?
The UK state and corporations have been disproportionately responsible for greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution. They continue to benefit from and profit from the spoils of slavery and colonialism and from the UK elite’s continued dominance of extractive and exploitative industries around the world - from fossil fuels to finance to arms to agriculture.
The UK’s fair share of climate-linked loss and damage stands in excess of £1 trillion of financing for the Global South, alongside a responsibility to make appropriate technologies - including Covid-19 and other vaccines - freely accessible. The UK’s historic emissions contributed to the lived reality of regular droughts, storms, sea level rise and wildfires for millions on the frontlines of this crisis across the globe.
What’s migration got to do with the climate crisis?
Climate impacts are making some areas unlivable and these impacts intersect with precarity driven by an economic model that prioritises debt collection, and profit over people and planet. We need a new system that builds dignified communities as well as safe and dignified routes of travel when climate, political, social, economic or other shocks and injustices overwhelm local systems.
How is education and climate change related?
We need an education system that drives equity - does not discriminate and exclude. We need an education system capable of responding to the scale of climate impacts already underway, which gives young people the tools and skills to go into roles that increase our collective well-being and resilience even as the climate changes.