declaring climate emergency, extinction rebellion
© David Wilkinson

Today, a Labour-led debate is being held by UK Parliament to discuss the possibility of declaring a “climate emergency” in the wake of Extinction Rebellion protests

Jeremy Corbyn will lead a debate today on the UK Parliament, to encourage the Conservative government to consider an environment and climate emergency.

Labour declared their perspective before this point, describing the current conditions of the climate as an imminent danger to all life.

Opening the debate, Corbyn will urge his fellow MPs to accept their “historic duty” and back Labour’s motion. He will use his speech to make a case for “rapid and dramatic action” for social and environmental justice. On current rates of decarbonisation, and following government cuts to renewable energy, the UK will only reach net zero by the end of the century, which is at least 50 years too late.

Corbyn will argue that we are already seeing the effects of climate change, including extreme weather in the UK. He will tell MPs they should listen to those “who bear the highest cost” and are “least to blame here and around the world for the destruction of our climate”.

Climate justice campaigners, including UK Student Climate Network, Momentum and Extinction Rebellion are expected to organise a demonstration in Westminster in support of declaring an emergency and many others, including Greta Thunberg have voiced support.


Corbyn will also call attention to the “terrifying loss of animal and plant species” and the impact we are having on our soil. He will argue that “without pollination and healthy soil, there is no food and without food, there are no humans.”

The Labour leader will caution against despair and optimistically tell MPs that “it is time for action”. He will argue that the scale of this emergency requires “reprogramming our whole economy” with “large-scale government intervention to kickstart industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future.”

On declaring an environment and climate emergency, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, is expected to say:

“Today this House must declare an environment and climate emergency. We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.

“Young people know this. I was deeply moved a few weeks ago to see the streets outside this parliament filled with colour and noise by children on strike from school chanting ‘our planet, our future’.

“For someone of my generation, it was inspiring but also humbling that children felt they had to leave school to teach the adults a lesson. The truth is they are ahead of the politicians on this, the most important issue of our times.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen. For all the dismissive and defensive column inches the protests have provoked, they are a massive and necessary wake up call.

“Today, we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you’.

“Parliament rarely leads change, it usually drags its feet. Think about the huge transformations to our society: workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights. The impetus has always come from outside, from social movements and communities, while Westminster is often the last place to understand it.

“Let’s not repeat that pattern. Let’s respond to the younger generation who are raising the alarm.

“By declaring a climate emergency, we could set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the world. It’s a chance that won’t be available to succeeding generations. It is our historic duty to take it.”


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