16 March 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Are the protests frequently held in Cambridge an effective way of raising awareness of the climate change issue or should all that energy be directed to a more productive (and less disruptive) purpose?
What are we to do about climate collapse?
The debate about the tactics of climate protesters should not be a distraction from this central question that faces all of us. Whatever you think about the form that climate protests take, you have to have a response. Doing nothing or occupying ourselves with other things simply isn’t an option.
The recent XR protests are a case in point. My personal view is that the digging up of Trinity College’s lawn was a tactical error for a number of reasons. First, it cast Trinity College as a victim. This is quite an achievement and a significant own-goal. Trinity College are guilty of all the things that XR accuse them of and they are not using their enormous wealth to aid the transition to a zero carbon future. Quite the reverse. Second, it gives rise to just the distraction that we need to avoid. The issue is climate collapse not some college lawn.
In fairness to XR the majority of their actions are positive, imaginative and designed to get people to think about the issues. As a response to the challenge that we face that is already the most productive thing that can be done. XR protesters are not expressing their opinion. They are sounding a warning that everyone urgently needs to hear.
The critics of the disruption that XR protests cause need to point to a better way of raising our consciousness and those of our political masters. Our current government is showing a criminal lack of imagination and political will in the face of the biggest threat that humankind has faced in all history. The Johnson regime not only does not care, it is actively promoting the forces that are destroying us.
Our response was written by Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy is your Green Party parliamentary candidate for Cambridge in the event of a snap general election. He is a local campaigner and the Dean of one of Cambridge's colleges.