At midday on 30 May 2020, Extinction Rebellion Newham staged a socially distanced protest outside Newham Council’s head office in the Royal Docks, London. Standing three meters apart at all times and wearing non-medical grade PPE, the local XR activists have a message for their Council: “be bold, be brave, and dream of a new world beyond COVID.”
The XR members held placards making clear the critical moment we are at, announcing that ‘Change is Now’. Our message is this: we can refuse to race back to the ‘old normal’ of deadly air pollution, car-clogged streets, and a hostile environment for the other creatures we share the planet with. We can reject the ‘normalcy’ of 7 in every 100 deaths in Newham being caused by air pollution, and of having some of the poorest air quality in the UK. The Newham rebels are calling on the Council to take decisive action that brings together residents to plan a cleaner, safer future. Their protest at council HQ was amplified across social media and delivered directly to the Council to encourage them in their work to create a borough that breaks with toxic tradition and creates a new, healthier place for us to live.
Newham Council has led the way in declaring a climate and ecological emergency in April 2019. They have held a citizen’s assembly to identify solutions to the climate crisis, generated by residents themselves. As the lockdown lifts, they have closed some parking bays to give more space to pedestrians and encourage people to leave the car at home. But we want them to go further” says group member Margot Farnham.
XR Newham say:
• “We want to be able to breathe in our streets without choking on the fumes of stacked-up and idling traffic. This means pushing forward with plans to limit car use, reduce car ownership per household, and remove the most polluting vehicles from our streets.
• We need to resist the horrifically damaging ‘grand projects’ being forced upon our borough, including the Silvertown Tunnel, MSG Sphere and the expansion of London City Airport.
• We need more cycling infrastructure and further action to reduce people with full mobility from using their cars for short journeys that can easily be taken on foot or by bike.
• We need more allotments; we need to grow our food sustainability and food security, teaching everyone why local food is good for us and the living world around us.
• We need more space for wildlife – more parkland, and more wild space in parks.
• We need to use regenerative models of building society and community, for example Doughnut Economics and its adoption by cities like Amsterdam.
• We need to continue informing and involving residents in building a better future.”
“Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has shown strong leadership on the climate crisis to date, including through her support for Extinction Rebellion. We now want to support Newham Council by urging them to go further, faster. To publish the recommendations of the Climate Change Citizens Assembly held earlier this year, and run with implementing them. To call on central Government for proper funding to tackle the climate emergency. To dream a new future together with residents and get stuck in now to create it.”
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Y Not Freakin’ Recyclable Home