Inspiring words

Below you can find the full text of some of the speeches given at the Southampton Climate Change Demonstration on Sunday 29th November at Guildhall Square. We hope to have more soon.

Jenny Barnes, Organiser of the Southampton Climate Change Demonstration @sotonclimate
Over the next fortnight, we need the government to agree to a legally binding commitment to keep global warming below the crucial 2 degrees. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of others around the world to say we want a cleaner, greener, healthier world, in which developing countries can pull themselves out of poverty using clean energy. In which we can build our economy on a sustainable footing, by supporting jobs in clean energy. In which our relationships with others are more important than what we own or what we earn. In which wildlife can flourish.

What happens over the next two weeks is important, but we also need to think about what happens after the UN climate conference, what happens next. As we look around us, can you see a single thing that hasn’t been made from, created using, or transported by fossil fuels?

In order to plan our journey, we need to know our destination. So let’s take a minute to think about what our lives will look like when we’re living in a truly sustainable way. How will we get to work? How will our workplaces be different? What will we eat for dinner? Where will we buy our food from? How will our homes be different? Where will we go on holiday and how will we get there?

A lot has been done already. This year, a quarter of our energy in this country was created by renewables. Millions of small actions by each of us is reducing our impact on the climate. 2.6 trillion dollars has already been divested from fossil fuels – Hampshire County Council pension scheme being in good company. Governments and businesses are making commitments and changes.

What’s happening is great, but it’s not happening fast enough. It has been estimated that we have 17 years before we hit 2 degrees. We can’t wait until the deadline and then turn everything off.

You’ll see some inspiring organisations here today who have some solutions. By being here today, we can build a community from which we can create that sustainable world.

James Dyke, University of Southampton
We know what we need to do. The science is clear. The science is unambiguous.

Over the next few decades humanity must radically reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses it puts into the air.

At the same time we must reduce poverty. We still live in a world where 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, where over one million people die each year because they can’t get access to clean water. Fighting poverty, inequality and climate change are the same thing. It’s a fight for global justice.

If we are to help those greatly in need, to help their nations develop, then we must not take more than our fair share of the earth’s resources – and that includes its fossil fuels and limiting the pollution we produce when we burn them. By taking too much, by polluting too much, we harm the very poorest in the world. We harm them but we will also harm our children, grandchildren and future generations in this country.

So far, the international community has had a very poor track record in addressing climate change. Basically, the rich nations can’t agree how much responsibility they should assume. How much they should care about the impacts they have produced. The UK should be proud about its response to climate change. In 2008 it became the first country in the world to put legally binding carbon dioxide reductions in place for itself. But, as you know, things since then have not been so good. In particular, the current government is slashing subsidies for solar, effectively banned onshore and even offshore wind and is instead making a new dash for gas – this time via fracking.

Why are they doing this? Why are we letting them do this?

Unfortunately you can’t bomb climate change. If you could, our government, this nations newspapers would be screaming at us to support the United States and bomb climate change back to the stone age and this problem would have been fixed many years ago. But the problem with climate change is that  stopping it means stopping people making money. A lot of money which means a lot of power. People don’t give up power after considering arguments or alternative points of view. They give it up and change because they have to.

We have to make them change.

Sometimes the scale of these changes can seem too large – much too large for any of us individually. When you think about what needs to be done, how quickly it needs to be done by, it feels like staring at a massive cliff face. Your nose is right against it. All you see is a sheer slab of rock that extends upwards forever. How are you possibly going to overcome this? But we must guard ourselves against fatalism and despair.

There is nothing impossible about the things that we have to do. They will tell you it’s impossible, the time has passed, we can’t help them only ourselves – but that is not true.

Don’t think how far you have to climb. Think of what the world could be like at the top. Imagine that view. Imagine living in that world where we consider the wellbeing of everyone alive now and those that will come after us. Imagine living in a city that plays an active part in tackling climate change and also becomes a better place to live. A place that you love. A place you are proud of.

Why can’t we come together and transform the city?

Why does the number of cars in Southampton have to always increase? Why does Southampton have some of the worse air quality in the UK – air so polluted that each and every year over 100 people die from pollution related diseases? Why are so many cyclists injured or killed on our streets? Why do we waste so much food? Why are our homes so badly insulated? Why are some people so poor they have to decide to either not go hungry or not go cold?

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can create meaningful change. Together.

Individually you can be ignored, just another small angry voice shouting far away. Barely heard.
But together we can become a force that can overcome. Together we can make our way to the top. We are all part of the problem. We live in a rich nation, a nation that began the industrial revolution. But this means that we are part of the solution. We are all part of the solution. Think of what the city could be like. Think of what the world could be like. Do you want to make this change? Do you believe we can make this change?

Come together now and tell each other we can do this. After today tell your friends, family, work colleagues that we can make this change. And tell your MP. Tell your councillor. You elected representative. Vote. Campaign.

And know this:

Climate change can change our world – for the better. It’s up to us to do that. It’s up to you. Make it happen.