An open letter to Claire Perry - on climate change

Written by Jo Ripley on .

I would like to respond to Claire Perry’s recent column.

It is of course very good indeed that she supports the net-zero goal by 2050 announced by Theresa May and that, when acting as de-facto Climate Change Minister, she was, as she writes, driving this initiative.


However, the Committee on Climate Change states that “this is only possible if clear, stable and well-designed policies to reduce emissions further are introduced across the economy without delay. Current policy is insufficient.”

This will make it more difficult to meet the net zero goal by 2050, but 2050 is anyway too late.


So before I underline what the future looks like I would like Claire Perry to know that the messages from Devizes and Marlborough Extinction Rebellion (XR) is that she state loud and clear:
    •    that there is no room for Heathrow expansion or for new fossil fuel extraction,
    •    that her Government must stop subsidising fossil fuel (significantly more than it subsidises renewable energy), scrap their proposed hike on VAT on solar panels, not allow any new carbon-intensive factory farms
    •    that the UK carbon budgets should include international aviation and shipping and our ‘offshore’ emissions (ie all the stuff we consume, but is made elsewhere), large-scale investment in energy efficiency, and more!


To avoid the worst, the global temperature must stick within 1.5 degrees C warming. We are on track for over 3 degrees C.


Also, the UK has a responsibility, not just to lead the way, but to exceed in our target goal.  As we headed up the industrial revolution and are a rich nation, we are responsible for significant carbon emissions from the 19th century onwards.


The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last autumn is considered as conservative in its estimated threats. Its summary for policymakers omits some of the biggest risks, (described in the full text), and makes no mention of important thresholds that might, for instance, halt the Gulf Stream, or cause shifts in the occurrence of the African and Asian monsoons with devastating consequences.


More recent studies continue to show that climate breakdown is happening quicker. Ocean temperatures have been warming far more than outlined by the IPCC - global sea-level could rise more than predicted.


Arctic soil that’s been frozen for thousands of years is thawing at an alarming rate due to climate change and scientific modelling suggests this could cause a disastrous positive-feedback loop, whereby increased methane emissions cause further warming, which thaws more permafrost and so on.


We face a world where massive numbers of people will be forced to leave their homes because of sea-level rise, intense heatwaves, crop failure, dead oceans, species loss – an entire collapsing ecosystem and a growing global population fighting over ever-scarcer resources.


According to the UN, the world is fast approaching a "climate apartheid" where only the wealthy can afford basic resources in the face of fatal droughts, famine and heatwaves. Cities running out of water from reasons relating to climate change, habitat destruction and over-population.


About 100 million people across India alone are facing a nationwide water crisis with 21 major cities on the brink of running out of groundwater next year; the four reservoirs that supply water to Chennai, India’s 6th largest city with a population of 9 million, have been dry awaiting the late monsoon.


Along with many others, I have spent years writing polite letters to my MP, but the world continues on a destructive trajectory.


Extinction Rebellion and the youth strikes (and David Attenborough) have set the alarm bells ringing and helped bring focus to this and it is why 1,000 + doctors including 40 professors, several eminent public health figures and past presidents of royal colleges back our protests.  

In their words: “Governments abrogate their responsibility when pursuing grossly inadequate policies that risk environmental collapse. Nonviolent direct action then becomes the reasonable choice for responsible individuals.”

Jo Ripley