ENDING climate change is ‘the defining issue’ of our age according to Gibraltar’s own Extinction Rebellion protest group.

Rising political star Mark Montegriffo. who is spearheading the creation of XR on the Rock, believes ‘radical change’ is needed to save humanity.

“If we do not unite and demand it we will not do so on anything,” he told The Olive Press.

“We have to choose between unfettered capitalism and planetary destruction or a unified stand in favour of justice and equality.”

The founding Extinction Rebellion in Gibraltar is not expected to disrupt the activities of other environmental groups like the ESG and the Nautilus Project.

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Their members have been invited to take part in XR activities which will include taking a stand against the CEPSA refinery in the Bay of Gibraltar.

“We will welcome representatives from Spanish Extinction Rebellion groups at this meeting to talk about areas of joint interest, such as the CEPSA refinery that has polluted our communities for generations,” said XR Gibraltar.

“The climate emergency unites us towards a common goal which is above party politics, and anybody of any party-political affiliation is welcome to contribute as an individual.

“Extinction Rebellion is not, and will never be, a party standing for election. We are developing three simple demands, however, which we hope MPs will sign.”

Urgency

After the COP25 conference and as Greta Thunberg was named as Person of the Year by Time magazine, it is clear that climate change is no longer a fringe issue.

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Montegriffo, who was involved in the first steps of Together Gibraltar, thinks not enough has been done to prevent a climate catastrophe.

“This concerns Gibraltarians who suffer severe health risks due to the air we breathe,” he revealed.

He blames consumerism and exploitation of the global south for the rapidly rising water levels, storms and droughts caused by climate change.

“The IPCC annual report says we have less than 11 years before climate change is irreversible,” he says.

Despite the stark warnings, the COP25 panel only achieved a modest agreement, postponing until next year a key decision on global carbon markets.

Delegates from almost 200 nations however, endorsed a declaration to help poor countries suffering the effects of climate change but didn’t allocate any new funds to do so.

Montegriffo explained the reasons for this failure: “Capitalism could never be sustainable. It depends on the abuse of natural and human resources.

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“Businesses should of course do what they can to lower their carbon footprint and their plastic pollution.

“But at a planetary scale, capitalism has been ruining the economies and the environment of the global south, and is ruining the societies in the West or global north too.

“Brexit and Trump tells us that people realise our traditional institutions are broken, though those aren’t anywhere near solutions if we are serious about justice and equality.

“The time to talk about solutions and to act on them is now.”

Final issue

Mark’s study of politics and philosophy has led him to the conclusion that the system is broken and it will finally break us all too.

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“Since the industrial revolution, human history has been dictated on the basis of mass production and hyper consumption,” continued Montegriffo.

“Although significant progress has been made in many areas of human life, the world’s resources have been used largely in the benefit of a few over the majority of the world’s populations.

“The owners of oil companies will not face the consequences of climate change immediately.

“Those with obscene levels of wealth do not yet see it in their interests to take the climate emergency seriously.

“In fact, they are quicker to market themselves as green when in actuality they are the worst polluters.

“It is the small Chilean village affected by drought, it is the families in Australia who are suffering brushfires in the Spring that are surrounding their homes – it is even the Gibraltarian who suffers severe health risks due to the air that she breathes on a daily basis.

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The XR founder in Gibraltar said it was was no longer ‘a future issue’ but ‘the final issue’.

“If we do not unite and demand radical change in the world on this, we will not demand radical change on anything.

He questioned whether the climate emergency was too urgent for the small steps taken by Gibraltar.

“Where is the government on bunkering? Where is the government on high carbon corporations? Where is the government on air pollution?” he asked.

Join up with Extinction Rebellion on December 27 at 2pm at the Commonwealth Park bandstand.

Lunch will be provided but members are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to help out in this critical cause.

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