Editor’s comment: We must all play part in revolution

The citizens assembly on climate change. Picture: VANESSA BERBERIAN

The citizens assembly on climate change. Picture: VANESSA BERBERIAN - Credit: Archant

One of the tenets of Extinction Rebellion’s manifesto is that individuals are not to blame for the royal mess leaders and lobbyists have made of our planet’s future.

"We avoid blaming and shaming," reads its website. "We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame."

Yet in many cases the people affected by the sorts of action necessary to change the way we travel and build will be individuals.

In a city with a world-class public transport network, and some limited road capacity still offered, driving less is a reasonable change to ask people to make. But what about the way we heat our buildings)? What about those who need help - or subsidy - to adapt their homes, or their small businesses?

Confronting climate change means making some sacrifices, but the biggest of those should be made by the people profiting off the status quo: the oil firms getting rich by the monopoly of dirty fuel over the transport network, for instance, and the politicians and lobbyists and investors who benefit from those firms' support and success.

Camden Council is to be praised for its people's assembly asking the public for suggestions on tackling climate change - but it must have answers, too, for the ones who are most impacted. That could be more and more accessible public transport and cycling infrastructure, or schemes to allow cleaner vehicles more use to the roads than dirtier ones. It could be finding ways for businesses to be greener by helping them get affordable access to sustainable delivery services, or subsidising them to switch out the least sustainable parts of their supply chains.

Individuals are not to blame for the climate catastrophe we are facing down, but individuals have little choice but to be part of the solutions. That means not opposing the sacrifices we are being asked to make, but demanding that we are given the support necessary to make them.