The U.K. parliament declared a symbolic climate change emergency on Wednesday, backing a call by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for “rapid and dramatic action” to protect the environment for generations to come. The measure was passed as an opposition motion, using a procedure typically ignored by the ruling party, and has no direct consequences for policy.
But it is a nod to an increasing vocal activist movement particularly among young people in Europe, who have staged school strikes and civil disobedience campaigns to demand action. Eleven days of protests by the Extinction Rebellion activist group caused major disruptions in central London in recent weeks, and Swedish schoolgirl campaigner Greta Thunberg addressed lawmakers on a high profile visit. The group set up camps that blocked off major roads in the capital, disrupted transport and targeted major institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Shell.
Jeremy Corbyn: “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,” Corbyn told parliament. Today, we have the opportunity to say, ‘We hear you’ … By becoming the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency, we could, and I hope we do, set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments all around the world.”