On Wednesday 1st May, MPs in the Commons approved a motion to declare an environmental emergency: UK Parliament declares climate change emergency. There are a number of people who should know better who are getting somewhat excited by this development. Not wishing to piss on anyone’s parade but this vote is little more than an empty gesture passed by a Parliament that has noted the recent choreographed Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

Governments and local councils will be judged by their actions, not by the passing of motions (you can take that any way you want!). Back in March, Labour controlled Lewisham Council declared a climate emergency and pledged to do ‘everything in its power’ to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030: Lewisham Council declares climate emergency. All well and good but you don’t have to dig far to see this ‘declaration’ for the rank hypocrisy it is.

If a local authority is really intent on making their borough carbon neutral, one of the things they would consider doing is planting trees wherever possible. Lewisham Council did the exact opposite by destroying trees in a community run pocket park as part of a so called ‘regeneration’ scheme in Deptford: Lewisham Council Still Mired in Controversy Six Months After the Violent Eviction of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford.

The garden was violently evicted with the use of bailiffs backed up by the cops in the same week that Lewisham Council ‘declared’ a climate emergency. Seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried! What gets us is that councils who pull this kind of stunt expect us to be taken in by their bullshit and spin.

As for councils out in the south of Essex, they’re so far into the pockets of the developers they know they’ll never get away with the empty gesture of declaring a climate emergency because locals will call them out on their deeds! We have Thurrock Council threatening to destroy a much loved pocket park in Grays to make way for the expansion of their offices. There’s Basildon Council who have happily been flogging off chunks of Gloucester Park to developers. Last but by no means least, there’s Southend Borough Council who seem intent on allowing the cliffs to be built over because they can’t be arsed to make the effort to maintain them as green spaces.

Local authorities and the government are deeply into the pockets of vested interests who can only see the bottom line and who despite a bit of greenwash, don’t care about our environment. Don’t get taken in by their empty gestures and spin when they’ve no intention of changing their ways. As we and many others have said, if you want to save, repair and enhance the ecosystem that supports us, the only way is complete system change.