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Extinction Rebellion Cambridge threatens week-long roadblock if demands to Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and University of Cambridge not met

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge has threatened to bring the city to a halt with a week-long roadblock next month.

Extinction Rebellion Black Friday protest. Picture: Jeremy Peters (25731057)
Extinction Rebellion Black Friday protest. Picture: Jeremy Peters (25731057)

The campaign, called ‘Rebel for Justice’, was launched today by XR Youth Cambridge, a movement of young people born after 1990 which works closely alongside XR Cambridge.

In a statement, the group said: “At the heart of the campaign is the message that the effects of the climate and ecological emergency are falling more heavily on disadvantaged and marginalised communities around the world, including in the UK. XR Youth Cambridge argue that any attempt to address the climate crisis must seek to bring justice to these communities.”

The groups will take action from February 16 to 23 if their three climate and social justice demands are not met in full.

They are:

  • The University of Cambridge must cut ties with the fossil fuel industry
  • Cambridge City Council must hold a citizens’ assembly on climate justice
  • Cambridgeshire County Council must work with other relevant regional authorities to provide a plan for a just transition away from an inadequate transport system reliant on fossil fuels

The group has also confirmed that the roadblock will not affect cyclists.

Amelia Halls, a member of XR Youth Cambridge, said: “Social justice is absolutely at the heart of the fight against climate breakdown. The UK was the first country to industrialise and its actions over the last two hundred years are causing natural disasters all over the world today. It is the poorest and most marginalised people, from those living in Bangladesh to indigenous communities in the Amazon, who are bearing the brunt of climate catastrophe. In the UK, it is poorer communities who suffer because of flooding, summer heatwaves and air pollution.

“Institutions like Cambridge University bear a huge historic responsibility when it comes to tackling climate injustice - and yet despite their power, they act too slowly or not at all. Local government too has the power to change things radically and rapidly - yes, by standing up to central government inaction and austerity, but also by using their powers now to tackle the emergencies we face”.

Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, responding to the call, said: “We agree with Extinction Rebellion that the climate emergency is a massive threat to life in Cambridge and we want all organisations, businesses and households across the city to act now, cut carbon and get moving quickly so we change to be a net zero Cambridge.

“Cambridge City Council will play our full part, as will be clear when we publish soon our planned 2020/21 budget from April, with extra funds to tackle climate change. We will also meet Extinction Rebellion on their call for a citizen’s assembly and wider action, as we did several times last year.

“The council has to date invested over £1.5 million in ensuring the council moves towards net zero carbon, cutting its own carbon emissions so far by 25%. But there is so much more to do to make everyone aware this is an emergency, and every single person living, studying or working in Cambridge has to play their part.

“We fully support also the planned 2020 Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Climate Commission and essential partnership work by all councils on that bigger geography on dozens of actions including better public transport, renewable energy and more local food to achieve net-zero emissions, and because Cambridgeshire has to adapt to already unavoidable temperature rises happening now.”

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire County Council responded: “On 19 December we launched our draft Climate Change and Environment Strategy consultation, you can read more from the news release here

“Transport is one of the priority areas for climate change mitigation in our draft strategy and the strategy also refers to the importance of working with others.

“We welcome feedback on our draft strategy from all Cambridgeshire residents and organisations through the consultation website survey link - consultcambs.uk.engagementhq.com/climate-strategy.”

XR was launched nationally in London in October 2018 when activists declared themselves in open rebellion against the UK government. The movement came to Cambridge soon after, carrying out civil disobedience across the city, with targets including local government, public institutions, oil companies, banks and the fashion industry.

XR Youth Cambridge was founded in May 2018, and has focused on how the climate emergency is related to issues of social justice. Nationally, XR demands that the UK government tells the truth about the scale of the climate and environmental emergency, commits to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and sets up a representative citizens’ assembly to determine what steps the government should take to achieve this.

Extinction Rebellion is calling for people to get involved. To sign up fill out the online form.

For more info, email rebelforjustice@protonmail.com

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