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Greens back Youth Climate Strike against airport expansion

Young people in Bristol are set to take part in another climate strike this Friday (24 May) at College Green, this time protesting the expansion of Bristol Airport.

The protest is being organised by the Youth Strike 4 Climate Movement, and is the latest in multiple large rallies that young people have carried out on Bristol’s College Green in recent months. As with other demos, this strike is part of a coordinated global action – the organisers say at least 106 other places in the UK will be taking part. Green councillors in Bristol, who have repeatedly challenged the expansion of Bristol Airport, welcomed the news.

The organisers of the climate strike have set up a Facebook event which states:

“Despite both declaring a Climate Emergency, Bristol and North Somerset Council are still forging ahead with their plans of an airport expansion, which will have devastating impacts on the climate. With the clock ticking towards the point of no return WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS.”

Although Bristol City Council unanimously passed the Greens’ Climate Emergency motion in November 2018, making Bristol the first UK city to do so, the city’s Labour Mayor continues to support Bristol Airport’s expansion plans, which will see an increase of 4 million passengers and 23,600 extra flights per year.

At an event in Bristol on May 20, Green councillor for Southville Steve Clarke met with Green MP Caroline Lucas and talked to her about the airport expansion plans and youth climate strike.

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Councillor Clarke said:

“It’s fantastic news that the Youth Climate strike are raising this issue. These young people are showing the rest of us what needs to be done – we have to listen to them before it’s too late. George Monbiot recently described Bristol Airport’s expansion as a ‘gun pointed at the heart of the planet’ and he’s absolutely right. We know from the IPCC report that humanity has about a dozen years to radically alter our economy and society in order to have a chance at preventing runaway climate change. Global warming over 3C will quite literally lead to millions of deaths and forever change animal life as we know it.

 “What politicians like Bristol’s Labour Mayor don’t seem to grasp is that this climate emergency – that he voted for at the Council – means business as usual has to stop. The scale of the challenge we’re facing means we have to put our children’s and grandchildren’s futures ahead of the tired pursuit of growth at all costs. Marvin Rees and the leaders of all our neighbouring local authorities need to publically oppose the expansion of Bristol Airport.”

Lily, 16, one of the organisers of the Youth Strike, said:

“Most importantly we believe that expansion is NOT compatible with the declaration of a climate emergency, in which Bristol is leading the way. To remain in a state of emergency, all decisions (particularly future planning decisions) need to be taken with reducing the impact of climate change as the priority.”

“Increasing flights from 8 million to 12 million passengers will directly increase CO2 emissions and aggravate the situation. We respect that Marvin Rees is trying to provide jobs for Bristol residents but we believe that this can be done with a focus on sustainable, green jobs. The fight against climate change will open up more opportunities in this sector. As young people  we are constantly left out of this debate, when issues like Bristol Airport will affect us most of all. We strike to demand a say in the city we inherit, one which we believe should be reducing their contributions towards the mass extinction we are facing.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said:

“How on earth anyone could think this is compatible with declaring a Climate Emergency is frankly unbelievable. I think Bristol Airport is going to be a really important test case to demonstrate that if you’ve declared a climate emergency that means you have to start doing things differently – you don’t continue with business as usual.”

“I was really pleased that some of the young people at the climate strikes have prioritised this as an issue. Young people get it – so it’s quite extraordinary that the politicians who are supposed to be making laws on their behalf somehow still don’t get it”

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