Change by choice, not by force; CAT at the People’s Climate March

Home » Change by choice, not by force; CAT at the People’s Climate March

On the 21st of September hundreds of thousands of people came together across the globe to put pressure on world leaders gathering in New York for a UN summit on climate change on Tuesday.  In London numbers topped 40,000,  amongst them, CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Team and friends. Whilst in New York more than  310,000 marchers took to the streets making it officially the biggest climate march ever.


As events go it was pretty big for CAT with Alice Hooker Stroud giving an inspiring speech from atop the bus and marching alongside Emma Thompson, Peter Gabriel and Dame Vivienne Westwood.  You can watch the video of the speech here. .

This is the full text of Alice’s Speech

Thank you.  It’s wonderful to be here and to see you all here. So, I’m going to talk about our future. Because, we all know that our current efforts to tackle climate change are not enough. Even with current emissions pledges, we are on course for a 3, 4 degree-plus world. I used to work in climate science. I’ve spent far too long looking at this future. It’s depressing. It’s not a future I want to even talk about, let alone live in. But, we need to be able to imagine an alternative, to see how the future might be different. It has to be a credible future, one with substance. This is why I work on a project called Zero Carbon Britain.

Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future, our report launched last summer, details a technically robust scenario in which the UK has risen to the challenge of climate change – an alternative future. We prove that it is possible to run the UK on net zero greenhouse gas emissions – not an 80% reduction; that we have all the technology necessary, now – we don’t need to gamble on future technological developments.

 Technologically, there is no reason for less ambitious action than this; there is no reason not to start immediately.  

We can reduce energy demand in the UK by 60%, whilst maintaining a modern standard of living. We can use 100% renewable and clean energy to power the UK – we don’t need fossil fuels, or even nuclear power. This is a reliable energy system, where we can cater for our reduced energy demand, hour by hour, even when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. We can feed ourselves a healthy, balanced and sustainable diet, grown mostly on UK soil. Alongside this, we can grow the biomass needed to make our energy system reliable, and have more space for nature.This is a positive future. We can create 1.5 million jobs, improve our health and wellbeing.

But these are not small changes. Our scenario in Zero Carbon Britain requires insulation of all our buildings, a change in the way we travel, how much we travel, and near complete electrification of our transport system. It requires we use the renewable energy sources that are so abundant in the UK – we have one of the best wind resources in the world! – and scale up renewable energy generation massively. It requires that we eat differently and use our land differently.

I am not saying that this is easy. But climate change is a big problem, and there is no small solution. We can’t ‘tweak’ our way out of this. We need transformative change.

The choice we have is not between ‘change’ and ‘no change.’ Business as usual does not exist – if we keep going as we are, the climate will impose big changes upon us; we will not be able to keep doing the same things we do today. The choice is between ‘change’ imposed upon us by a rapidly altering climate system, or ‘change’ by choice. Zero Carbon Britain helps us see what ‘change by choice’ might look like, and that it is a viable alternative. It is massively ambitious, but it does not defy the laws of physics. It is a challenge for our society, but not for our technology.

 We can rise to the climate challenge. We already have everything we need to create an alternative future, here and now, An alternative future is possible. And today we are choosing to create that positive future.