Extinction Rebellion protesters who scaled city hall in Bristol this morning (Thursday 25 June) are refusing to come down until Bristol City Council commits to ensuring legally clean air in every part of the city.
The five climate change activists took ladders to the council building at 5am and are demanding council leaders make changes by April 2021.
The group claims that Bristol City Council is failing to set out a clear plan of action to address the 'climate emergency'.
They say milestones and dates need to be set to ensure that 'changes are made'.
Bristol City Council was the first council in the UK to declare a climate emergency in November 2018, it then followed up with a declaration of Ecological Emergency in February 2020.
Bristol XR Regional Coordinator Pete Hughes who is one of the climbers on the roof said:
In no other context would you see people using the word ‘emergency’ but taking so little practical action. >
Pete Hughes went on to add, “Bristol is already lagging behind the measures introduced by other UK cities. Our air pollution not only has appalling effects for the people of the city, but it is contributing to the planetary climate and ecological emergency.
“We need to see a clear plan of action to address this emergency, with targets and milestone dates. That’s how the changes we desperately need will be made.
“The proposed Clean Air Zone is already very limited in scope, and the Mayor is talking of delaying its implementation due next March.
“We had clean air during lockdown. We know that pollution levels will rise as economic activity returns.
"All we’re asking at this stage is that air pollution doesn’t rise above the maximum legal limit defined by the World Health Organisation WHO / European regulations.
“We want the Mayor and the council to make a public commitment to that, and we’re not coming down until we have it.”
The group is also staging another peaceful demonstration, by putting out almost 300 pairs of shoes on College Green in Bristol.
Activists say the 296 pairs of shoes represents the lives lost in Bristol each year ''due to the inaction and delay of Bristol City Council and the West of England Combined Authority on air pollution''.
A range of experts will be talking on College Green later today about the risk of air pollution to the people living in Bristol.
The line up consists of:
David Brenig-Jones, international sustainable transport consultant
Dr Steve Melia, Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning at UWE
Dr Diana Warner, retired GP
“We need to fight for breathable air across the city. As the lockdown eases, traffic will increase but public transport will remain restricted. The increases we have seen in walking and cycling could be squeezed out by motor traffic. We need to make sure that we don’t go back to car-dominated cities.
Illegal levels of air pollution affects everyone's health. On top of this, people in the poorest areas of Bristol generally die ten years earlier than those living in the wealthiest areas and the gap is increasing. Bristol City Council’s air monitors already show nitrogen oxide emissions creeping back up to illegal levels. It is common sense that the council prioritise safe transport for all now - cycling and walking, affordable and acceptable public transport - so we can transform our city and save lives.
On top of the other two demonstrations, Extinction Rebellion supports will be handing in letters with the message "DELAY = DEATH" to local MPs Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) and Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke).
This comes as the Committee on Climate Change will report that the UK Government is "failing lamentably to tackle the threat caused by the dangerous overheating of our planet".
The letter calls for their assurance that they will read the report, and asks how they will hold the government to account for its "failed commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050".