Following a damning scientific study and criticism from the Government’s own spending watchdog on the soaring costs and environmental damage caused by fracking, the Conservative administration announced, with considerable fanfare, one of its first manifesto policies designed to grab the pre-election headlines, a halt on fracking.
‘Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn’ gushed the media in what was described as a ‘watershed moment for environmentalists’. But, within days, suspicion grew that the halt was merely temporary, no more than a highly visible gesture designed to appease an increasingly environmentally concerned public. And at the same time, our very own Surrey County Council obfuscates over its own July declaration of a climate emergency with its September agreement to extend fracking operations at Horse Hill, a site targeting the estimated 11 billion barrels of oil thought to lie across the Weald, with what could be as many as 3,000 individual wells.
No wonder the recently-named Time Person of the Year for 2019, campaigner Great Thunberg, castigated the UN’s climate summit in Madrid, saying “The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when, in fact, almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR”.
As we have previously said in this column, at a time when we are now locked in an existential battle against climate change but, at the same time, when trust in politicians is in acutely short supply, the truth is more important than ever. Genuine, unvarnished, universally accepted facts are what is needed so that we, as a society, understand the need for deep-seated and urgent change and accept the sacrifices required.
And that is exactly why Extinction Rebellion’s first demand is “Tell the Truth”.