Stefan Boscia

The Extinction Rebellion protests are targeting the wrong country

In 2007, then-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd labelled climate change ‘the great moral challenge of our generation’. Rudd is right: if no action is taken on rising CO2 emissions then the world is in trouble. That’s why it is so disappointing that my country, Australia, has failed to tackle the problem and remains one of the highest emitters per capita of greenhouse gasses.

However, the same is not true of the United Kingdom. Thanks to sensible and far-reaching climate change policies, Britain has significantly reduced its level of CO2 emissions and has almost entirely abandoned coal as an energy source. The UK has made some of the largest reductions in emissions in the OECD and has recorded a 38 per cent decrease in CO2 output since 1990. Emissions in the UK are now at their lowest point since the 19th century, and the government announced in October it was consulting with the Committee on Climate Change on how to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

And yet, some groups like to pretend this country’s politicians are the predominate cause of global warming, largely ignoring the UK’s huge strides in combatting the problem.

Extinction Rebellion have shut down parts of London this week by gluing themselves to trains, conducting sit-ins and generally making a nuisance. On Thursday, they pledged to try and shut down Heathrow Airport over the weekend.

The group’s activity so far has cost businesses millions and caused disruption to tens of thousands of commuters. Their petulant protests have sought to create more urgency around the issue, however, it is likely they have only turned Londoners against them. Extinction Rebellion are right to see climate change as a problem and yet their methods are counter-productive and quixotic.

The group has three demands – for the British government to announce a ‘climate and ecological emergency’, for the country to commit to zero net CO2 emissions by 2025 and for the creation of a citizens assembly to make decisions over ‘climate and ecological justice’.

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