Why would an 11 year old boy from Hebden Bridge decide to walk all the way to London?
Youth activist Jude Walker recently passed through Sheffield on a 200 mile journey to drive support for a petition to introduce charges on carbon emissions. He is desperately trying to raise awareness of the urgent need to stop using fossil fuels ahead of the vital COP26 talks in Glasgow in November.
On 25th July, Jude, from Hebden Bridge, began walking to Westminster to raise awareness for the need to implement a carbon tax.
He has met with Louise Haigh MP and Paul Blomfield MP in Sheffield, Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker and Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner – who called Jude “one of our next generation of climate leaders.”
A carbon tax would charge companies based on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted – with more charged for the more they emit. It would help influence companies to switch to renewables. It could also provide the government with funding for climate change mitigation measures – for example, tree planting and carbon capture technologies – as well as cushioning households from the costs of the transition to net zero.
A petition urging the Government to implement stronger carbon pricing was launched in February by the Zero Carbon Campaign and already has 48,500 signatures. Carbon pricing has recently been endorsed by G7 and G20 ministers, as well as a host of world leaders.
Jude said: “Part of my aim is to raise awareness for the Zero Carbon Campaign’s carbon tax petition. I read IPCC reports, got increasingly concerned about climate change and thought what I could do to make a difference. One day I read ‘This Is Not A Drill’. It said that it doesn’t matter what people do in the provinces, only in the capital city, where all the big businesses are based.” So he decided to walk to London.
Hannah Dillon, Head of the Zero Carbon Campaign, said: “We are blown away by Jude’s support of our campaign, and his resolve and determination to hold political leaders to account with regards to their climate commitments. He understands better than most adults the severity of the climate and ecological emergency, and the need to implement effective, economy-wide solutions to address it. It is outrageous that we continue to enable and actively subsidise the dumping of toxic greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. As Jude has shown, the time has come to make polluters pay.”
Jude’s mums Tamsin and Sarah said: “We tried to put Jude off this idea, but he is adamant that he wants to do something to raise awareness about introducing a meaningful carbon tax. We suggested waiting until he was a bit older, but he said the climate emergency wasn’t waiting. Also, as COP 26 was happening in the UK this autumn, this summer would be the perfect time. We couldn’t really disagree with his reasoning and have chosen to support his walk.
“We are very proud of him and the many other young people across the UK, and the world, who are desperately trying to make us adults stand up and take responsibility for the Climate Emergency. While making personal changes to diet, lifestyle, etc, are all helpful, to reach carbon neutrality within a timeframe that will actually make a difference we need systemic change; we need governments to act, and a meaningful carbon tax will really help this.”
Jude is asking people and politicians to support his walk by signing the Zero Carbon Campaign’s petition to introduce charges on carbon emissions. You can follow his progress Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.
Many people will argue that a carbon tax would unfairly target the poor, who already suffer from fuel poverty, when it is the rich who are actually responsible for most CO2 emissions. So a fairer solution would be carbon rationing. Sheffield scientist John Grant explained this on Facebook. He suggests that everything we buy should have a carbon footprint. “The environmental impact of everything would be fairly rationed. So rich people (they cause most of the harm to our planet) would only be able to cause the same as those less well off.” So if you choose to go on a flight to Australia, you will be very limited in the amount of fuel, meat, and other high carbon products you can purchase. In the war rationing was successfully used to ensure everyone had their basic needs met. Today we can have a much more sophisticated system to ensure everyone only uses a fair share of our carbon budget, which needs to get to zero by 2030.
Whether it’s Carbon Tax or Carbon Rationing, the message to our politicians is they must act now and get on with urgently reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Hat’s off to Jude, for bringing this to their attention.