Barry speaks at Going Backwards on Climate Change march

On Sunday 8 May, to mark a year of Conservative government hundreds of people staged an unusual demonstration: walking backwards down Whitehall. These families, campaigners, MPs were all there for one reason: while the government has been eager to talk up its climate credentials on the world stage, it is is going backwards at home.

Video by Steve Eason

We may have been walking backwards. But they are the ones who don't know where they're going.

We are the ones who will take our country to a Zero Carbon Future.

The government want to tell us you can get there by fracking under our National Parks.

You can't.

They want to tell us you can get there by cutting funding for insulation to keep our homes warm, or slashing support for solar power.

You can't.

They want to tell us you can build new runways and keep driving diesel buses without worrying about the toxic air pollution that is killing 52,500 people in this country.

Well you bloody well can't!

There are times when I am happy this government is going backwards on its plans...

I was delighted when they did a U-turn and said they would accept child refugees from Europe.

I was delighted when they went backwards and did a u-turn on forcing all state schools to become academies. 

But now we need this government to start going forwards on climate change. 

The Paris climate conference last December was great. 195 governments signed up to a clean energy future.

Last month’s Signing Ceremony in New York, where over 170 governments took the first step to put the Paris Agreement into practice was superb.

But pieces of paper do not stop greenhouse gas emissions from rising. They do not protect us from dangerous climate impacts like flooding.

Policies do.

We need an end to unabated coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. The government promised to take steps this spring to phase out coal – but we haven’t seen any progress yet. 

We need support for innovative technologies to make our industries fit for the future, like carbon capture and storage.

We need to see a surge in clean energy, with a long-term vision to boost investment in the wind turbines and solar panels we need to power the UK.

We need low carbon vehicles and ultra-low emission zones, so that we can travel without polluting our neighbourhoods.

We need a government that is prepared to think further than the next election and to legislate for a Zero Carbon Future.

Ten days ago, for the first time ever in the UK we generated more energy from solar power than from coal across the entire day. That's the future we want – now.

Yesterday we turned our backs on Westminster and walked backwards down Whitehall because our Government is turning its back on the people. Turning its back on our future.

But we will walk forward together. We will create a sustainable zero carbon future. Because we know something that they have yet to understand. A sustainable future is the only chance we have to have a future at all.

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