A day before British Parliament is set to vote on whether to join a growing number of governments that have declared climate emergencies, a new poll showed unprecedented demand from the U.K. public to treat the crisis as a top legislative priority.
Greenpeace released a survey Tuesday showing that two-thirds of the British public believe the planet is facing a climate emergency. Under pressure from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Parliament is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday.
An official declaration would send a “clear signal that we are in a crisis” and force lawmakers to treat the climate with urgency, 16-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg said after Corbyn announced he would seek the vote last week.
The Greenpeace poll was released two weeks after mass demonstrations throughout London began, with the global grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion leading the occupation of several major landmarks as it called on policymakers to stem the climate crisis by ending fossil fuel projects.
Extinction Rebellion is calling on the government to “tell the truth” about the climate crisis by declaring a climate and ecological emergency.
“Tell the truth, that’s our first demand,” a demonstrator said at a protest in Parliament Square last week. “We are here to demand that the government takes immediate action on these problems.”
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“Climate activists, young and old, have put the U.K. government under enormous pressure to officially recognize the climate emergency we are facing,” Greenpeace UK director John Sauven told The Guardian Tuesday.
Both the Scottish and Welsh governments officially declared climate emergencies in the days after Extinction Rebellion began the demonstrations, joining more than 450 local governments around the world.
Parliament will vote on the declaration a day before the British public goes to the polls to vote in local elections. Greenpeace’s poll found that 76 percent of respondents also said that candidates’ positions of whether and how to take climate action would influence how they voted in elections. Nearly two-thirds said the government is responsible for tackling the climate crisis through policy.
“There is a real feeling of hope in the air that after several decades of climate campaigning the message is beginning to sink in,” Sauven told The Guardian. “What we need now is to translate that feeling into action.”
Greenpeace also unveiled a manifesto including 134 actions the government can take to put Great Britain on a path to reducing its carbon emissions to net zero as quickly as possible.
Proposals in the manifesto include using tax incentives to phase out gas- and diesel-dependent vehicles and replace them with sustainable models; ending unfair taxation on solar power; and making energy efficiency a priority for all new construction.
“The government clearly needs help as they are not sure how to respond,” Sauven said in a statement. “So we have produced an action plan to show how, with a little bit of courage, the U.K. can help avert the climate crisis, and take responsibility for our historic emissions.”
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