14 July 2023

Climate activists to stage weekly protests outside Labour offices over ‘U-turns’

14 July 2023

Climate protesters have vowed to stage weekly protests outside Labour offices unless he commits to new green policies as they renewed accusations that Labour has “U-turned” on environmental pledges.

The Green New Deal Rising group, which last week disrupted a major speech by Sir Keir Starmer and threatened to escalate action if its demands went ignored, held sit-downs in London, Brighton and Leeds on Friday.

They were targeting the constituency offices of Sir Keir as well as members of the shadow Cabinet including Rachel Reeves, with whom they want a face-to-face meeting.

Among their demands are the establishment of a “national nature service” tasked with tree-planting and nature conservation and a “green jobs guarantee” for “anyone who wants one”.

Labour has made several green pledges, including the creation of GB Energy – a new, publicly owned clean power company – and a zero-carbon electricity system by 2030, but campaigners say spending must match the commitments.

Fatima Ibrahim, the co-founder of Green New Deal Rising, said: “The Labour Party can no longer take our votes for granted. Young people want to see real action on climate change. We have tried petitions, we have written letters, we have asked for meetings. We will now host sit-outs every Friday until the Labour Party get serious and back a Green New Deal.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour is the only party with a long-term mission to make Britain a clean energy superpower to cut bills, create jobs, provide energy security and tackle the climate emergency. Our plan will sweep away the barriers that stand in the way of a clean energy revolution.”

It is the latest flare-up in a row between the party and environmental activists, who have said Labour represents an “opportunity to start a conversation” but have demanded stronger commitments on green spending.

Labour last month scaled back its flagship pledge to invest £28 billion a year in a green energy transition, saying it would ramp up spending rather than hit the sum in the first year of a Labour government.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the decision was taken due to the dire economic backdrop, with the party making financial prudence central to its plan to win the next election.

Last week, Sir Keir was interrupted during a speech on educational reform by two young people, who formed part of the backdrop to his address, heckling him for watering down his climate ambition.

But the party leader said “there’s no U-turn at all” when asked about it in the Q&A, insisting he is “doubling down on it” with his clean power by 2030 mission.

He also condemned the “huge arrogance” involved in the disruptive protests of groups such as Just Stop Oil, drawing a contrast between “interrupting, interfering with other people’s lives” and the “actual change” he said a Labour government can bring about.

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