On Saturday 6th November, Mary joined others in Durham Market Place who came together to mark the Global Day of Climate Action. This coincided with events in Glasgow at the UN’s COP26 summit.
It is estimated that there were marches and rallies on every continent of the planet, with Durham one of several locations in the UK hosting rallies and events to speak up for climate action.
Mary’s speech given to the rally is below:
Good morning everyone, I’m Mary Kelly Foy and I’m proud to be speaking at this event today, not just as Durham’s MP, but as a fellow campaigner in the fight for climate justice.
We are facing the greatest crisis in human history. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report published earlier this year provided us with a stark reminder that we are set to fail to meet our target of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C.
Extreme rain fall, wind, and summer heat waves will hit this country hard, devastating agriculture and greatly impacting the way in which we live. If COVID has forced us to adapt to a ‘new normal’, climate disaster will force us to adapt to a reality even more detached from anything we know.
And in a world where 100 corporations produce 70% of all of our emissions, it’s the least well off who will be hit hardest by climate change.
This isn’t something we can ignore and this is why COP should have been bold, radical, and inspiring.
Instead, what we have seen is weak and devoid of ambition. Instead of leadership, we’ve had impotence.
We have a Prime Minister who is happy to talk the talk, but repeatedly fails to walk the walk. A man that falls asleep maskless next to 95-year-old national treasure David Attenborough. A Prime Minister that quotes Kermit the Frog to a United Nations delegation.
Sadly, we simply cannot trust the Government on the climate. A week ago, Government MPs were whipped to vote against a ban on companies dumping raw sewage into our rivers and seas. And rather than investing in climate action, the Chancellor’s recent Budget actually incentivised pollution, making it cheaper to fly domestically and by freezing fuel duty, policies borne of greed and consumerism.
These are not the actions of a Government that has accepted the reality of the climate crisis, they are those of a Government in denial.
However, when I was elected, I promised that I didn’t plan on just pointing out problems, I want to be part of the solution and we need bold action to combat and reverse the inaction that we’ve seen over the last 40 years.
I was proud to be elected on a manifesto that would have taken climate change seriously. It promised a Green Industrial Revolution that would create hundreds of thousands of well-paid and secure green jobs and provide a just transition for workers. It would have transformed our economy and our society, so that the environment and equality were at its heart.
We should be incentivising companies to divest from fossil fuels, taxing them proportionately to the emissions they produce, and reinvest that money in improving the infrastructure of the country. We need better trains, better buses, better roads for electric vehicles.
We know that a more integrated public transport system lowers emissions and improves the quality of life of all. And we know that green jobs are better jobs, and that green energy is cheaper energy. All of which is a far cry from the cost of living crisis the Government is currently presiding over.
Because while the impact of the climate crisis hits the least well off the hardest, the solutions to the crisis benefit the least well off the most.
This is why a Labour Government would be investing 28 billion pounds a year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis.
However, this is a global problem, and our inaction also impacts those in developing countries who will feel the effects of our pollution.
Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, has said that staying on the track we are on now, failing to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees, is a “death sentence” for Caribbean countries.
Labour would return foreign aid spending to a level that respects the dignity of those in other countries and that allows them to take effective climate action. The climate crisis has no borders, so neither can our policies.
And I know how important it is to people in Durham that they have an MP who who’s serious about climate action. It’s why I’m proud to back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which would require the Government to take action to reduce our contributions to global greenhouse gas levels, fulfilling the obligations we signed up to in the Paris Agreement, and protect nature in this country.
We are here today to demand action. We know that the Government have used COP as a glorified photo opp. That they have fiddled while the world burns.
And in doing so, they neglect the very people they are elected to serve. Until their actions match their lofty words, we must keep holding them to account. We must keep demanding that climate is at the forefront of the agenda. The climate emergency is here and our future depends on the action that we take now. We can’t afford to mess this up. If we don’t act now, there’ll be little left to save. We simply cannot go far enough fast enough.