XR dumps the soot from Bristol’s lungs on WECA’s doorstep

Photo credit: Simon Holliday

On the sixth day of our week of visually arresting actions, rebels have dumped soot from a giant pair of lungs onto the doorstep of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) headquarters.

A letter explaining the reasons for the action was pasted to the front doors.

XR Bristol is highlighting WECA’s responsibilities in taking action on the clearly recognised climate and ecological emergency. The letter and action summarises our detailed response to WECA’s slender 7-page report on the stated goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, which has taken the authority a year to produce.

WECA is responsible for coordinating transport policy in the region, and it has produced no formal commitments or commenced any actual work towards climate neutrality. WECA’s plans for road-building fly in the face of Thursday’s report produced by the independent statutory authority the Committee for Climate Change (CCC). That report states clearly:

“Public money should not support industries or infrastructure in a way that is not consistent with the future net-zero economy or that increases exposure to climate risks.”

Last year the chair of the CCC, Lord Deben, compared the UK’s climate crisis preparations to a “Dad’s Army operation”.

WECA is responsible for policies affecting a population of over one million people. With air pollution killing 64,000 people in the UK every year, representing 98 in every 100,000 of the population, up to a thousand people a year could be dying of air pollution across the west of England.

Rebels hold a sign saying 'You build / we breathe' aimed at WECA who are building new roads at the expense of Bristol's air quality
Photo credit: Simon Holliday

Sally Lawson, Professor Emeritus of Physiology at Bristol University, says:

“WECA isn’t taking the emergency seriously at all. It is proceeding with road building plans for the foreseeable future when there is possibly NO foreseeable future.

“Now we read that the executive director of the International Energy Agency is warning that the world now has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe.”

GP, Dr Patrick Hart says:

“Illegal levels of air pollution in Bristol harm all Bristolians and do the most harm to those who are most vulnerable. We are seeing illness and premature death happening right now.

“I fully support the Extinction Rebellion protestors on the roof of the Bristol City Hall just as I support any non-violent direct action that draws attention to this health crisis. I would like to implore the city council to sit up and listen. They need to take urgent action to help the people of Bristol and to save lives.

“We need clean air for life.”

Later in the day the iconic Bristol Message Cubes that first made an appearance outside the Tate Modern in London in October, and reappeared on Monday, will be set up on College Green.

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