Greenpeace interrupt Chancellor’s speech at Mansion House

Publication date: 20th June 2019

UPDATE

Security have ejected the Greenpeace activists from the Egyptian Hall at Mansion House, after they had disrupted the Chancellors speech with alarms and sound systems. The Chancellor refused to take the speech when it was offered to him, but the Governor of the Bank of England accepted a copy from the activist offering it. A Greenpeace activist managed to deliver the first few minutes of the speech before being ejected. No arrests at the time of writing.

The full speech the activists had intended to deliver to the assembled financiers and bankers is available here – https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/peoples-climate-speech/

Stills and video will be available here from around 9.30pm onwards –

https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJ8TG0VS

You may also be able to acquire footage from the BBC or Sky, or stills from picture agencies.

Original release:

Greenpeace interrupt Chancellor’s speech at Mansion House

Thursday 20th June, 2019. London. At 9.00pm this evening, 40 Greenpeace volunteers gate-crashed the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech as it was being broadcast live on television, to replace it with a speech calling for greater government investment and leadership to tackle the climate emergency.

The Chancellor had been speaking for under 5 minutes when the activists burst into the Egyptian Hall in the Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of London and the location for his annual statement on the state of the economy. The activists, in red evening dress with Suffragette-style sashes reading ‘climate emergency’, came to flash-mob the Chancellor’s podium, hijack the microphone and give what they described as “the speech we all need in a climate emergency”. The Lord Mayor (Peter Estlin, from Barclays Bank) and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, were also due to make speeches.

Areeba Hamid, Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said –

“This is a climate emergency. Business as usual is no longer an option. The real bottom line, the priority that needs to come before all others, is not profit, revenue or growth, but survival. That needs to be recognised in every boardroom and on every balance sheet, starting with the Chancellor’s.

“The people in this room have been funding climate change, and we’re not giving the banks and hedge funds a pass for their unethical investment decisions anymore. The Treasury is the government’s banker. It plays the same role propping up vested interests and blocking progress on climate change. But science demands a radical programme of policy interventions and public investment if our economy is to survive the coming storm. The serious, sensible, grey-suited grown-ups in the room ignored the warning signs and crashed the economy in 2008. We can’t afford to let them crash the climate too.”

The speech, written to be read to the assembled bankers by a Greenpeace activist, concentrates on the economic reform and investment the government needs to provide to address the climate emergency, as well as the actions the financial sector need to take. Printed copies of the speech, adorned with red ‘climate emergency’ wax seals, will be presented to the diners.

The Treasury has been widely criticised for seeking to water down and delay government action on climate change in recent weeks. Firstly, through scare-mongering about the costs of tackling climate change without mentioning the costs of not dealing with the crisis, or the co-benefits of environmental protection, such as improved public health, warmer homes and an economy fit for the 21st century. Secondly, the Treasury explicitly called for the government’s decision to legislate for ‘net zero’ to be delayed until the Department conducted a review. And thirdly, they pushed for get-out clauses and international offsetting to be included in the ‘net zero’ target, potentially undermining the legislation. All of these decisions contradict the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

ENDS

Contact

Greenpeace UK Press Office – press.uk@greenpeace.org or 020 7865 8255

Stills and video will be available here from around 9.30pm onwards –

https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJ8TG0VS

You may also be able to acquire footage from the BBC or Sky, or stills from picture agencies.

Notes for editors:

  • Greenpeace’s climate emergency plan sets out some of the immediate actions required by government to address the climate emergency https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/climatemanifesto/
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world must cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 to contain global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius
  • The UK’s emissions have only fallen by 10% over the last 20 years if you take into account imports and exports https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-the-uks-carbon-footprint-is-at-its-lowest-level-for-20-years
  • The Committee on Climate Change have advised that the total public and private investment needed per year to take the UK to net zero greenhouse gas emissions is £50 billion, or 1-2% of Britain’s GDP. Even more is required to tackle the environmental crisis and restore nature, and to support other countries in the green transition.
  • The costs of not investing will be significantly bigger in the long term, while the benefits – including cleaner air, healthier cities and thousands of new green jobs – will be huge, and indeed much higher than many other major government expenditure projects
  • The Committee on Climate Change’s advisory group on costs made clear that early action to invest and introduce new policies to speed up the green transformation could make the UK more competitive in the global economy