Extinction Rebellion protesters are getting arrested because our political system has left them no c

Extinction Rebellion protesters are getting arrested because our political system has left them no c


Extinction Rebellion protesters are getting arrested because our political system has left them no c Try Independent Minds free for 1 month The rebels have tried playing by the rules by turning out and voting in first past the post elections in their hundreds of thousands. And what impact has it had on parliament? None XR is one of the most remarkable grassroots movements of the 21st Century. Spurred on by dire warnings about climate breakdown, it has mobilised thousands of people who are willing to get arrested, or even face prison, to make their voices heard. How is it that in our supposedly democratic society so many feel compelled to break the law to make such an overwhelmingly reasonable point: that we shouldnt destroy the environment on which all life depends? The answer is that our broken democracy leaves little choice. XR may be a global movement, but a glance at their map of local groups reveals just how heavily weighted their activity is towards the UK – the only European country that still uses the antiquated first past the post voting system. Germany has eleven local XR groups. Norway has two. The Republic of Ireland, four. The UK, on the other hand, has over one hundred and thirty local XR groups – each consisting of dozens or hundreds of otherwise law abiding citizens; citizens so desperate for their politicians to listen that they are willing to go to jail. And in second and third place globally for number of XR groups are the US and Canada – the only other two major developed countries to use first past the post. This makes perfect sense. Our first past the post voting system has systematically denied representation to the people who care the most about the protecting the natural world. In 2015, over a million people voted for the Green Party and their policies aimed at averting climate disaster. In 2017, despite the hundreds of Green candidates standing down in the hope of unseating Tory MPs, they still received half a million votes. Yet at both elections they won just a single MP. The rebels have tried playing by the rules by turning out and voting in their hundreds of thousands. And what impact has it had on parliament? None. Our electoral system silences them almost as if theyd never voted at all. Its obvious why XR is nowhere near as big anywhere else in Europe. Almost all other European countries use some of proportional representation – so seats match votes and all votes count equally. When a party wins a million votes, it picks up a lot of seats in parliament. Its then able to represent the views of its voters, shape the debate and influence legislation. Some Germans are just as worried about climate breakdown as their British equivalents. A few are even willing to risk arrest. But in Germany, every climate activist could instead choose to spend their time campaigning to elect environmentally friendly MPs – and their efforts will be rewarded in proportion to votes they win. Indeed, the Germanys Green Party has surged in national and regional elections in response to rising concern about climate breakdown. Its not surprising that most European activists decide the parliamentary approach has a much better risk/reward ratio than getting arrested. First past the post doesnt merely make people feel unrepresented; it stops vital change from happening in response to public demand. Theres a showing that countries with proportional representation far outperform those with winner takes all systems like first past the post when it comes to climate action and environmental protection. Countries with PR slowed their greenhouse gas emissions faster, perform significantly better on the Environmental Protection Index, ratified the Kyoto Agreement faster, and have deployed significantly more renewable energy. Most countries have still done nowhere near enough. But there is hope in countries with PR – because these democracies are responsive to rising public demands and are able to build consensus in order to address these serious long term threats. Compare this to the depressing situation in the UK. In 2017, most people voted for parties promising to ban fracking for shale gas no surprise given overwhelming public opposition to the idea . Yet our voting system handed a majority of seats to two parties that shared just 43 per cent of the vote; the only parties in parliament that are pro fracking. Together the Conservatives and DUP are rushing to create a whole new fossil fuel industry: something no other country in Europe is doing and – according to the scientists – something the planet cannot afford to happen. For the UK, the climate crisis is a crisis of democracy – and as much as anything else Extinction Rebellion is a rebellion against the way crucial voices are systematically shut out of our politics. To create a democracy capable of addressing the most urgent challenges of our time, we need proportional representation. As the chant goes, Change the system, not the climate! If you agree then, whatever else you do to make your voice heard, join the movement to and help us win PR. Klina Jordan is a lifelong environmental activist and the co chief executive of Make Votes Matter You can find our Community Guidelines in full Create a commenting name to join the debate Create a commenting name to join the debate Create a commenting name to join the debate You can find our Community Guidelines in full Create a commenting name to join the debate Create a commenting name to join the debate Create a commenting name to join the debate Enter your email to follow new comments on this article. Are you sure you want to submit this vote? Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? Are you sure you want to delete this comment? Create a commenting name to join the debate Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month to access this feature. Find your bookmarks in your section, under my profile

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