This stirring speech was given by author and co-founder of XR Writers Rebel, Monique Roffey, at XR’s Impossible Rebellion in London, Monday 23rd August, 2021.
Why, are we here in the City, today? Why have we marched all this way?
To speak truth to power. To speak truth to the City of London, which is home to the nation’s banks, and is one of the world’s leading finance capitals.
What happens in the City of London affects the lives of millions of people around the world. From flooding at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, to crop failures in the Global South. The factors, decisions, and companies leading to the rise in global temperatures caused by humans are financed here, in the City of London. This small London district is contributing massively to the global problem.
We are here because in the years since the Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks are still funding fossil fuel companies to the cost of trillions. $3.8 trillion, according to the Rainforest Action Network.
Runaway funding for fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure fuels climate chaos and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions.
Businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange, or financed from the UK, account for about 15% of global carbon emissions.
Business and banks must be held accountable. They are at the heart of funding big oil.
So who do you bank with? What is their score, when it comes to funding fossil fuels?
Here are some of the worst offenders: JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Barclays, Scotia Bank and Bank of America. But there are many more, and they’re the reason we’re gathered here: to make our presence known and felt by one of the biggest financial centres in the world.
Earlier this month, the IPCC issued a report which signified Code Red for the planet. For too long, climate scientists have been conservative in their estimations of the problem of temperature change and global warming. But this report now starkly lays out what we are facing.
Here are five things it tells us.
- Humans are largely responsible for rising global temperatures.
- Many observed impacts are happening more quickly than previously predicted.
- Climate change is creating more frequent and more intense extreme weather events.
- Business-as-usual will lead us far beyond 2 degrees Celsius of warming.
- Cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is the most urgent imperative for global climate action.
Which brings us right back to why we are here.
This is a fucking emergency!
So, this is an immediate call to action. What can we all do?
We can quit or boycott the worst banks. If we are shareholders, or become shareholders, we can speak out at shareholder meetings and force change from the inside. We can pledge not to buy any more fast fashion and weekend break flights. We can listen to what our kids say about the world we’re leaving them. We can call out the lies of the fossil fuel propagandists and the apathy of the media whose job should be to tell the truth.
Thank you all, for being here today with Extinction Rebellion.
Call to action: join Money Rebellion
Monique Roffey is a co-founder of XR Writers Rebel and the Trinidadian-born British writer of novels, essays, literary journalism and a memoir. Her most recent novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, (Peepal Tree Press) won the Costa Book of the Year Award, 2020, and was nominated for seven major awards. Her work has won many awards and been translated into several languages. She is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and a tutor for the National Writers Centre.