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End Austerity Now

IMAG0383What a week! The mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 17th June by the Climate Change Coalition saw more than 9,000 people engaged in conversations with their MPs about what’s urgently needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. Several members of Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth were there to lobby Eastbourne MP, Caroline Ansell, which is fantastic testimony to the strength and vitality of the environmental movement in the Eastbourne area.

The very next day we had the public launch of the encyclical Laudato Si by Pope Francis, a very well researched, comprehensive, and inspiring call for the whole world to act upon human-induced climate change and the poverty that is deepened by the impacts climate change brings in its wake. In his encyclical, Pope Francis used the life of St Francis of Assisi to highlight the interdependency of caring for nature and caring for others.

Which is why today’s End Austerity Now march organised by the People’s Assembly followed on so naturally from all the climate campaigning going on this week. For policies based on austerity not only hurt the poor hardest, but also weaken efforts to deal effectively with climate change, again affecting the poorest hardest. For example, the spending cuts introduced in 2010 immediately reduced the budgets for maintaining and improving the UK flood defences, leading to the present situation where such budgets are now £500 million less per year than what is needed to keep up with the pace of climate change and prevent flooding risks from increasing. That should concern everybody in Eastbourne, which is very much in the front line of climate change given that sea level is rising fast as the world’s ice sheets melt, and most of the town is at, or very near, sea level. Indeed, some of the most vulnerable parts of the town happen to be where the poorest live!

I was proud to be part of the London anti-austerity march today, and it felt very empowering to be amongst such a large crowd that understands just how damaging austerity economics is for both people and planet. My feet hurt right now after so much walking and standing, but my spirit is reinvigorated for the struggle ahead to restore both nature and the common good of our public realm.

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