Chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech at Mansion House was interrupted by Greenpeace this evening, calling for the Government to tackle the Climate Emergency.

At 9.00pm this evening, 40 Greenpeace volunteers gate-crashed the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech as it was being broadcast live on television, to replace it with a speech calling for greater government investment and leadership to tackle the climate emergency. (Read the entire speech.)

The Chancellor had been speaking for under 5 minutes when the activists burst into the Egyptian Hall in the Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of London and the location for his annual statement on the state of the economy. The activists, in red evening dress with Suffragette-style sashes reading ‘climate emergency’, came to flash-mob the Chancellor’s podium, hijack the microphone and give what they described as “the speech we all need in a climate emergency”. The Lord Mayor (Peter Estlin, from Barclays Bank) and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, were also due to make speeches.

Greenpeace interrupt Chancellor’s speech at Mansion House, 20 June 2019. / © Greenpeace

Areeba Hamid, Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace UK told the audience of assembled bankers, “This is a climate emergency. Business as usual is no longer an option. The real bottom line, the priority that needs to come before all others, is not profit, revenue or growth, but survival. That needs to be recognised in every boardroom and on every balance sheet, starting with the Chancellor’s.”

“The people in this room have been funding climate change, and we’re not giving the banks and hedge funds a pass for their unethical investment decisions anymore. The Treasury is the government’s banker. It plays the same role propping up vested interests and blocking progress on climate change. But science demands a radical programme of policy interventions and public investment if our economy is to survive the coming storm. The serious, sensible, grey-suited grown-ups in the room ignored the warning signs and crashed the economy in 2008. We can’t afford to let them crash the climate too.”

Greenpeace interrupt Chancellor’s speech at Mansion House. / © Greenpeace

The speech concentrates on the economic reform and investment the government needs to provide to address the climate emergency, as well as the actions the financial sector need to take. Printed copies of the speech, adorned with red ‘climate emergency’ wax seals, were also presented to the diners.

Security end up ejecting the Greenpeace activists from the Egyptian Hall at Mansion House, after they had disrupted the Chancellors speech with alarms and sound systems.

'Manhandling' rather than 'removing' a protestor.

The Chancellor refused to take the speech when it was offered to him, but the Governor of the Bank of England accepted a copy from the activist offering it.

The Treasury has been widely criticised for seeking to water down and delay government action on climate change in recent weeks.

Firstly, through scare-mongering about the costs of tackling climate change without mentioning the costs of not dealing with the crisis, or the co-benefits of environmental protection, such as improved public health, warmer homes and an economy fit for the 21st century.

Secondly, the Treasury explicitly called for the government’s decision to legislate for ‘net zero’ to be delayed until the Department conducted a review.

And thirdly, they pushed for get-out clauses and international offsetting to be included in the ‘net zero’ target, potentially undermining the legislation.

All of these decisions contradict the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also says the world must cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 to contain global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius.🔷

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[This piece was originally published on | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: © Greenpeace UK - Greenpeace interrupt Chancellor’s speech at Mansion House. | 20 June 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)