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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sheffield set to host huge demonstration against catastrophic climate breakdown

NowWeRise could see thousands take to the city centre on 9 December, calling for political action to tackle runaway global heating.

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A protest against climate breakdown in 2019.

Li-An Lim on Unsplash.

Sheffield could be about to see one of its biggest climate protests in recent memory, with thousands set to take part in a march calling for an end to political inaction on global heating and corporate profiteering from fossil fuels.

Organised by the Climate Justice Coalition, #NowWeRise is one of dozens of marches taking place across the UK on 9 December to mark the start of COP28, which is being hosted by one of the world's most polluting nations, the United Arab Emirates. The march starts at 12pm at Devonshire Green.

The meeting in Dubai, and the associated protests around the world, come at a time when the catastrophic effects of extractive capitalism and extreme global inequality on our planet are becoming more apparent day by day.

Now we rise

2023 is set to be the hottest year ever recorded by a large margin. This sets us on a path for runaway climate breakdown and possible extinction as a species unless we radically change almost every aspect of our society and our economy, including our food, housing and energy systems.

Graham Wroe of Tell the Truth Sheffield told Now Then we need a new economic system to address the crisis. “We are at imminent risk of crossing climate tipping points,” he said.

“Increasing economic growth – as supported by nearly all politicians – leads to more energy and resource consumption, and fuels climate change.”

In Sheffield, the city council has set a target for the entire city to be net-zero by 2030 – a target that it will almost certainly miss unless it prioritises radical interventions over small improvements to existing destructive systems (such installing new electric vehicle charging points).

None of the city's other big institutions, such as the universities and the local NHS trust, have put forward serious plans to make the drastic changes they will need to make, at speed and at scale, to come close to hitting the 2030 target.

Inaction at a local level comes in the context of a national government that is now actively backpedalling on the few climate commitments it has made – none of which are anywhere close to what's needed to avert catastrophic breakdown and human extinction.

The UN now says that unless much more ambitious targets are set and action is taken by all countries, the world is heading towards global heating of 2.5C. This would see tens of millions die directly as a result of extreme weather events, as well as the likely collapse of global food systems – not just in the global south but in countries like the UK.

Despite the extreme recklessness of the current government on global heating, Labour – who are likely to form the next government – have not put forward any plans proportionate to the scale of the crisis.

The party has said it would honour new licenses granted by the government for fossil fuel companies to extract from the massive Rosebank oil and gas field, even though this will add to the UK's carbon emissions at a time when we need to rapidly shrink emissions in every area of the economy to avert a 2.5C rise.

The party has also pledged to build millions of new homes in the UK. But research has shown that to stay within Europe's carbon budget – the amount of carbon we can use while staying within a 1.5C temperature rise – the UK can only build 15,000 homes a year.

Despite this, neither of the two main parties have talked about what might be the only solution for addressing the UK's dire housing shortage while staying within our carbon budgets: retrofitting of offices and other existing buildings into housing at a massive scale.

Organisers hope that Saturday’s rally will demonstrate overwhelming public support for action on climate breakdown at a local, national and international level, and that it will show political parties that there is an appetite for serious policies to address systems collapse.

“We are handing an awful legacy to our children, who will be expected to pay to ‘capture’ the carbon we have put in the atmosphere, as well as cope with food shortages and an out-of-control climate,” said Wroe.

“We have the solutions, but need the political will.”

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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