Written by Alex Welsford |
Sue Cooper, from Point and Penpol, Feock, is running to London as part of Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Earth March’, to demand that the government declares a climate emergency.
Sue, 59 and originally from Faversham in Kent, says that, “we need government policy to change,” and hopes the ‘Earth March’ will, “send a really powerful message,” to those in power.
Her dog, a “mostly whippet” called Honey – or “Runny Honey” as Sue affectionately refers to her – will also be making the 260-mile trip to Westminster, arriving ahead of XR’s week of ‘International Rebellion’, which begins on the 15th April.
Cornwall’s Extinction Rebels set off from Land’s End on the 11th March, and are now in Somerset, but Sue hopes to meet up with them before the final destination: “I’m going to leave on the 28th March and give myself just over a fortnight to get to London, running and walking.”
Sue, who is “semi-retired”, used to work at a college in Rochester, teaching English as a foreign language and economics, and believes that we have to change the way that we understand our environment.
“People think that we’re all trying to make everybody go back to the dark ages,” she says, “but that’s not the case – it’s teaching people to live sustainably within their own communities.”
Sue says she has been involved with environmentalism, “for about twenty years,” but that the first “direct action” that she took part in was last year, when she was involved with the blocking of five bridges in central London.
She was also involved in establishing the recent ‘Climate Change and Neighbourhood Planning’ conference at Tremough campus, where town and parish councillors from across Cornwall were invited to learn more about what they can do to prepare for, and declare, a climate emergency.
“We need the government to allow local communities to change the way we live”
“It’s impossible to live sustainably in our current system,” Sue says, “but [town and parish councils] are a powerful voice. If a message gets sent up from parish council level, that one of the few things that’s stopping them from actually taking action […] is procedure, red tape, government policy, then we need the government to allow local communities to change the way we live.”
Cornwall Council declared a climate emergency at the beginning of the year and, since then, town and parish councils across the Duchy have followed suit, alongside over 40 local authorities across the UK.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to declare a nationwide climate emergency, with calls coming from a range of activist networks, including – but not limited to – Extinction Rebellion and the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement.
A parliamentary debate on the issue was attended by just 41 MPs last month, and Theresa May’s response to striking schoolchildren was one of dismissal.
An early day motion has since been tabled which, “calls on the Government to declare a climate emergency and to release the necessary funding, including to local authorities, to enact a green new deal that would rapidly decarbonise the entire UK economy.”
The motion only has 33 signatures attached to it, including the six sponsors. If you would like to pressure your MP to sign the motion, you can contact them via this link.