The Time Is Now mass lobby
In June 2019, CPRE supporters were among thousands of people lobbying parliament for action on the climate emergency. Here’s what happened.
26 June 2019 saw people travel from all over the UK to call for political action on the climate emergency facing our environment. The Time is Now ‘mass lobby’ , jointly organised by The Climate Coalition and Greener UK, saw supporters of nearly 150 different groups descend on Westminster to speak to their MP about the protection of the environment, and tackling climate change.
The mass lobby had two central aims. Firstly, to get MPs to commit to a target of reaching ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2045. This is the technical way of saying we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to a level where they no longer contribute to climate change, or are balanced by their removal from the atmosphere. Secondly, those in attendance called on their MPs to introduce legally binding targets for the restoration of nature through the Environment Bill, focusing on important things like clean air, waste reduction and the improvement of soil and water quality.
2019 saw the government commit to a net-zero target of 2050, so the lobby provided a great early opportunity to promote the urgent actions needed to achieve this aim – and to ask for commitments to the more ambitious 2045 target.
CPRE supporters spoke to their MP about the key role that the countryside can play in meeting the challenges posed by climate change. This includes addressing car dependency and improving public transport to reduce carbon emissions in a way that benefits rural communities, dropping the government’s proposals to fast-track fracking and ensuring that new homes are built to the highest levels of energy efficiency, with existing homes suitably retrofitted.
We also used the opportunity to call on the government to introduce goals to stop soil degradation and implement an ambitious deposit return system to provide a simple solution to recycling confusion.
Over 300 MPs from across the political spectrum took part, with many of them treated to a rickshaw ride across the Thames to greet their constituents lined up along the banks of the river – surely one of the strangest sights to grace Westminster in recent years!
A successful lobby
So how was the experience itself? The whole day had a real buzz and sense of purpose, bringing together people of all ages, and from all areas and faith groups – all united by the desire to see nature protected and strong action on climate change.
The day provided a rare opportunity for those passionate about the future of our environment – including many school groups – to speak to their MPs in person and to meet like-minded people from their local area. Many of the MPs committed to a future meeting with constituents, and the friendships forged by those waiting for their MP will hopefully provide avenues for future action at the local level.
Alison from Bracknell was one CPRE supporter who got to speak to her MP, and told us: ‘this was my first time taking part in something like this and I would certainly do it again.’
Thanks to our supporters, CPRE’s vision for responding to the climate emergency, restoring nature, and empowering communities in our countryside is turning into an alarm that is ringing loud and clear. The Time is Now.