Statement on Sunak throwing the environment onto the political bonfire

We in Culture Declares express our strong dismay at the UK Prime Minister’s decision to water down already weak plans to tackle the Climate & Ecological Emergency. Our declaration is that the Earth’s life-supporting systems are in imminent jeopardy, threatening human civilisation and the biodiversity it depends upon. We must unite for humanity and biodiversity to survive but we are running out of time to act, so this is the moment we must choose our future. We need leadership. Our politicians must make choices for the greatest good yet Sunak’s decisions are more about winning power than meeting the needs of people, places and the planet. 

Sunak said “if we go down the current path we risk losing the consent of the British people.” 

However, green actions help people with the Cost of Living Crisis.

For example, insulation reduces energy bills. Investing in renewable energy and local food protects us from price hikes and supply chain issues. Multi-solving actions such as reducing polluting traffic improves respiratory health and road safety, enhances biodiversity and the economic attractiveness of places, as well as tackling climate change.

74% of UK people are concerned about climate change (ONS, 2022) and this number will rise as impacts affect more of us. Europe is now warming twice as fast as the other continents in the world. However, culture, media and politician’s choices can influence what people say in public and the actions they take. Many will mask and minimise their concerns, reflect the falsehoods they’ve heard, and feel that it is socially unacceptable to take action to safeguard their children’s futures. 

Sunak said they as a Government must make “tough choices and sacrifices” but we ask who is gaining and who is losing from these sacrifices?

We condemn the PM’s dishonesty in ‘kicking the can down the road’ for short-term political and personal gains.  

  • Sunak’s announcement is based on an imaginary list of green commitments he claims to be scrapping, such as meat taxes or compulsory car shares. 
  • Sunak is cynically fuelling a false dichotomy between the cost of living and ‘green’ legislation. 
  • Sunak’s family wealth has been boosted by billions of pounds in deals with oil companies, including with Russia, while he used his position to announce 100 new gas & oil licences. 
  • It is thoroughly dishonest to claim that climate action can be deferred, while thousands are drowned in Libya in one of countless current climate disasters. Committed warming from greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere makes taking action now imperative. 

As declarers across the Arts, Heritage and Design sectors, we support the rights of our communities to express their authentic concerns, to access accurate information about science and policies, and to contribute to democratic decisions that ensure the future liveability of our planet. 

This decision will ripple out across all sectors of our economy, including the Cultural Industries and Tourism, sending a blaring message to the world that we are not prepared to show leadership in tackling the biggest challenges threatening our security and prosperity. It shows that our Government is willing to make whatever deals and compromises are necessary to keep power for themselves and their industrial backers.

We call for the Government to be honest with UK citizens about climate science, about their own policies, and about their personal beneficial relationships with fossil fuel and extractive companies. 

We call for the Government to support The Climate and Ecology Bill, which lays out measures to mitigate global heating and biodiversity loss by 2030. 

We call for the Government to value the role of the Cultural sector in helping deliver its environmental policies by engaging and educating the public, by inspiring green innovations and protecting and restoring our heritage against climate impacts. 

Please share this statement with your MP and networks.

UPDATE 27th September: We note the regulator’s approval of the Rosebank oil field, and deplore this decision, which will cause emissions equal to 28 lower income countries. Caroline Lucas expresses our views on this matter.

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