On Saturday 30th May from 12pm, Extinction Rebellion Gloucestershire stood outside Council buildings and other landmarks asking the Government for a Citizens Assembly to decide our future together during the Covid-19 recovery, a recovery that must prioritise people, planet and health over profit. 

Extinction Rebellion Gloucestershire is made up of Extinction Rebellion groups across the county, including Cirencester, Cheltenham, Forest of Dean, Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Stroud.

As part of a nationwide action, Extinction Rebellion says, “We are at a turning point in human history. The Government is driving a return to “normal” as quickly as possible. But “normal” is killing us. Our Government has a choice; prioritise profit OR prioritise health. Bailout destructive industries OR bailout people and the planet. Mass extinction OR mass participation. It’s time to trust the people! As part of coronavirus recovery, we demand a binding Citizens Assembly on how to rebuild our economy, our democracy and our future.”

Cheltenham – photography by Esme Buxton

The protest took place all across the country – including Parliament Square in London – and was carefully designed so that people were physically distanced at 3 metres apart, with everyone being asked to wear masks in order to take part and stand silently for one hour. In adherence to current government health and safety guidelines, people arrived alone or in pairs and were being asked to only attend their local protests by walking or cycling and to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary. People were encouraged to bring their own cardboard sign with a choice for our leaders on, saying “people OR profit”, “life OR death”, “new roads OR new bike lanes” etc.

Extinction Rebellion Gloucestershire chose to focus on “health or profit”, highlighting not only the coronavirus crisis but also the negative health implications of the climate and ecological emergency.

As we have recently seen, Gloucestershire County Council was able to act in a matter of days in response to a crisis threatening the health and wellbeing of our communities. Why then, with a crisis of such enormous magnitude and consequently much greater risk to people, have they:

  1. Ignored the effects on health from transport related air pollution and not developed an ambitious transformation of our transport network that could bring about cleaner air for all. 
  2. Built an incinerator. This has allowed plastics/fossil fuel companies to continue to profit from producing plastic that cannot be recycled effectively. As a result, we the taxpayers fork the bill that takes money away from other essential services such as the NHS and education.
  3. Voted not to disinvest their pension schemes from fossil fuel companies. We need GCC to lead by example and invest in companies that make our world a healthier and fairer place to live.

Extinction Rebellion Gloucestershire welcomes GCC declaring a climate emergency but the net zero by 2050 lacks the ambition and leadership our children deserve

Extinction Rebellion Gloucestershire believes that Gloucestershire County Council’s lack of a truly  ambitious and robust action plan is worrying. 

Forest of Dean

“Whilst we understand and appreciate that Covid 19 has presented some unexpected challenges for the Council we know the Climate Emergency has the potential to present similar, if not bigger problems.”

As public trust in the UK Government lies in turmoil following their handling of the pandemic – and their unwillingness to address the climate and ecological emergency – the protest highlights the lack of faith people have in their ability to protect people from future crises. As the Government begins to ease lockdown and reopen the economy, Extinction Rebellion will stand in defiance of going back to business as usual, saying there can be no going back to the way things were. 

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