‘Delightfully British’ climate activism: Hundreds of business leaders to queue in London with green demands for MPs
Hundreds of professionals will be walking out of work and forming an orderly queue in London today (15 September), to sign a letter demanding that policymakers take “firm and urgent” action to tackle the climate and nature crises.
The event is being organised by Business Declares and Business Stand Up. Hundreds of workers from businesses of different sizes and sectors are expected to join the event, which has received the support of naturalist Chris Packham and former Unilever boss Paul Polman among others.
Polman said: “The days of politicians being able to blame their climate timidity on business are well and truly over. Whether it’s CEOs going into Government Departments to urge them to do more, or companies signing public letters to the Prime Minister, or employees queuing over the Thames, a big part of the private sector is now shouting from the rooftops.”
The queue will begin at St Paul’s Cathedral and snake across Millennium Bridge. Organisers are expecting the queue to be in place from midday to 2pm.
At the front of the queue, attendees will sign a set of calls to action for MPs and Lords, who returned from summer recess earlier this month.
The document calls for a rapid scaling of investment in renewables, related infrastructure and energy efficiency. MPs will be pushed to send clear, joined-up signals for the long-term.
Recent policy changes intended to unblock onshore wind were widely regarded as insufficient. Building on this, the Government’s most recent Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction supported the greatest number of projects of any round so far, but saw a decrease in total project capacity and failed to attract any offshore wind bids.
MPs will also be called upon by those in the queue to end all new fossil fuel developments in the UK, including the first deep coal mine in more than 30 years and all future oil and gas leasing rounds. Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed a new oil and gas leasing round with up to 100 licences on offer.
Some MPs including Net-Zero Review Author Chris Skidmore have argued that this decision should not have been taken during Parliament’s summer recess, effectively blocking MPs from having a say.
Skidmore has stated that he “fully supports” the queue. He said: “This unprecedented call from a vast range of businesses today to step up the ambition and vision on net zero at this vital moment to create the stability and clarity we need is exactly what I called for in the Mission Zero Report.
“Today demonstrates that above all business recognises that net zero and phasing out fossil fuels is an opportunity, not a cost and will create jobs and wealth, while to delay action will simply cost the UK.”
Spotlight on nature
The official name of today’s event is the ‘queue for climate and nature’.
On nature, attendees will ask the Government to set out a clear national plan for delivering its UN Biodiversity Treaty Commitments and for getting on track to deliver the 25-Year Environment Plan.
The 25-Year Environment Plan was launched under Theresa May with a pledge to improve the state of nature for the next generation. Policymakers have repeatedly been told that the UK is not on track, with progress even going backward in relation to some metrics such as priority species abundance.
The UN’s Biodiversity Treaty was ratified last December. Under it, more than 190 nations have committed to halt and end biodiversity loss this decade and to collaborate for restoration at scale. Specific commitments include mandating corporate nature-related disclosures, reforming subsidies for environmentally damaging sectors and setting aside at least 30% of land and water for nature conservation.
On nature, the document for the queue states: “We need a level playing field to allow coordinated business action, and fully funded regulatory agencies to enforce the highest environmental standards.”
Representatives from edie will be attending the queue to capture the calls to action from participating professionals. If you are keen to be interviewed, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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