On a beautiful Autumnal September day around 10,000 people gathered on Bristol’s College Green and marched on the streets in response to the call to protest to demand an acceleration in action at all levels of society and governance.
Bristol Energy Network (BEN) was proud to be one of the groups supporting strike action on College Green, representing its members. BEN was also working in collaboration with the University of Bristol’s School of Management and with students from its newly formed Management Society. BEN, a social enterprise (and therefore already representing an alternative means of organising) is part of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership with over 800 groups already working for radical and sustainable change).
BEN, supported by its members and staff alike, launched its own Community Energy Pledge, recognising that we must all move from protest to action, taking over 100 pledges from protestors (including the very young – see below!) and organisations alike.
Palie Smart, Head of the University of Bristol School of Management said; “The University was proud to support the latest Youth Strike 4 Climate Action and I am delighted by the support of my students, my School and BEN!! Many students from the city’s schools, colleges and universities remain within the city after completion of their studies and are therefore going to be facing the challenges of helping deliver the city’s 2030 Net Zero Carbon target.
Reflective and critical thinking and a quality education in an enlightened and ambitious city will be key to our collective futures and that is why I am happy to pledge that the School of Management will ensure it embeds sustainability principles into all new academic programmes”.
BEN Chair, Caroline Bird also stated, “Local government, business, and civil society must come together in a collaboration that respects the youth demand for accelerated change to address climate change, associated mass migration and the global and local inequalities that a warming world will bring and that is why we were at the Climate Strike and will work to deliver a Bristol Energy Network coordinated conference. “A Just Energy Transition: Responding to the Climate Emergency” will challenge the Cities ambition to deliver its 2030 target. The event will be held at City Hall, College Green on November 8th The clock is ticking and the children and young people are watching our response”.
The Global Climate Strike consisted of two days of action across the world on Friday 20 September and Friday 27 September. The organisers called on “millions” of people across the world to “disrupt business as usual” with 6 million people taking part in protests emphasising the danger of irreversible climate change.
After the IPCC report in 2018 that stated the world only had 12 years to take action before climate change became irreversible, Bristol City Council announced a ‘climate emergency’ and plans to become fully carbon-neutral by 2030. This pledge is now supported by a range of other organisations, including the University of Bristol.
This autumn’s strike included Extinction Rebellion, Unions and Green Movements (BEN, Friends of the Earth, TUC and Unite) as well as political parties including Labour and Green preceded the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which took place (from Monday 23 September) in America. The week saw a series of contrasting headlines – Greta’s impassioned speech at the UN followed by that scowl at the current US President and a fist bump with a previous one; and has concluded with many new promises (including broad commitments to reduce world coal mining and use and an increasingly low carbon but growth-based China), all set against the “ripple effect” of world-wide protest surrounding the Summit.
As this movement grows, against a backdrop of a world seems to lack leadership, and our national picture (Think Brexit!), from hundreds of protestors in Bristol’s City Centre in February and March 2019 to several thousands in September, this movement is going nowhere and growing fast.
Our young people across the world are demanding change:
“My message is that we will be watching you. This is all wrong,” Thunberg said, delivering an emotional speech that appeared to move the audience at the UN General Assembly hall in New York City.
Our response to Greta and the young people that have been striking today needs to be reflected in all our future actions. And BEN will be closely watching the impact on the United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP25) held this December in Santiago, Chile.