On Saturday 14th August, 11-year-old Jude Courtney-Walker, arrived in Downing Street, having walked the 200 miles from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, to bring the prime minister a petition about carbon pricing – Carbon pricing??
Given that relatively few adults – even in government, even now – grasp the real significance of carbon pricing, how did it inspire a boy just finishing primary school to spend half his summer holiday walking to publicise it?
It seems he knows his future may depend on it….
Jude says he’s known about climate change ‘pretty much since the day I was born, ’ but what really got to him was a book called Dire Predictions. This was not, as you might hazard a guess, a rip-roaring dark fantasy for young adults (let alone children), but an in-depth summary of the 2015 findings of the 5th IPCC Report (2015), co-authored by noted scientist, Michael Mann.
It tells of what lies ahead, if fossil fuel emissions are not brought down: the rising seas, the failing food supplies, the floods, fires, droughts, resource wars…
But it also explains how that could be changed. “He came away saying that the two main things we need from the government are reforestation and carbon pricing,” said his mother, Sarah. He said, “Why is nobody talking about carbon pricing?”
That’s what he was determined to change.
From This is Not a Drill, the XR handbook, he got the idea that the government only pays attention to things that happen in London, because that’s where the big businesses are. Jude decided that he needed to start a petition about carbon pricing, and that’s when he came across the petition begun by ZeroC. asking the government for a debate on carbon pricing.
Jude decided to walk to London with this petition, talking to newspapers and politicians on the way. His parents wanted to support him, but what about their jobs – and where would he sleep at night? But Jude was determined, and they were determined to support him, and they found a way – negotiating time off their jobs, managing to locate numbers of friendly people willing to offer a bed for the night, and eventually, at the last moment, finding an old camper-van for a support vehicle. Off they went, with Jude walking 10 miles every day for the next 20 days.
Between them, they did attract the attention of the media, and they did get politicians involved. Dozens of articles appeared in local papers; both the BBC and Sky news featured him; Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes, walked with Jude in Ben’s constituency, Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, met and walked with him in hers – and it was Baroness Jenny Jones who saw that his petition was personally handed in to 10 Downing Street.
By August 17th, ZeroC’s petition, Price Out Pollution, had reached 108,802 signatures – considerably over-reaching its target – and will now be given a date for debate in Parliament.
Watch this space for the date.
Let’s make sure we can tell Jude that the people who matter are finally talking about carbon pricing!
Judy Hindley, co-founder of CCL UK