Comment: Young Brits are Ready to Fight for a Fracking Ban

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Youth climate campaigners

By Katja Garson, UK Youth Climate Coalition Campaigner

Not here, not anywhere’. The central slogan of the anti-fracking movement is a call to arms, a celebration of community within and across borders, and a direct challenge to fracking companies and the Governments that support their nefarious activities - including the UK Government.

I am a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, a UK-wide network of young people who campaign for action, ambition and accountability on the issue of climate change. This past weekend, UKYCC ended their call for people around the UK to add their names to a letter addressed to Energy Minister Claire Perry.

The letter calls on Perry and the Government to ban fracking in the UK for good. Every one of the 525 signatures that we collected contributes to another letter shortly being delivered to Westminster.

This campaign matters because fracking is incompatible with a healthy future for communities and climate.

Many communities in the UK are understandably opposed to fracking. Indeed, for us, this is an issue of democracy. In November, over 850 councillors and elected representatives across the UK signed an open letter against the government’s plan to fast-track fracking without the consent of local communities.

UKYCC are musicians, biologists, waitresses, students, festival-goers, mathematicians, engineers, and more. The people who have signed our letter might share some or very few of our interests, professions and beliefs. Yet like us, all those who signed the letter to Perry are united against fracking in the UK.

I don’t expect the Government to respond. And if it does respond, it might try to reassure us that fracking can be “safe” when done in a “responsible” manner - words that Perry used to describe the industry in exchanges with Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan.

It is fitting that the Government will not publicly bow down to the industry, yet at the same time it is quietly smoothing the way for fracking. The National Planning Policy Framework published last year supports “the benefits of onshore oil and gas” and calls for “policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction” while suggesting barriers to the development of wind energy.

We have to ask: in a world that is seeing the impacts of climate change, where the science linking the burning of fossil fuels with global warming is undeniable, and where the Paris Agreement demands that countries work to meet climate targets, what place is there for Government policies that allow further and new fossil fuel extraction?

Our campaign has gained the support of Friends of the Earth UK, Young Friends of the Earth Europe, Climate Action Network, Reclaim the Power, university climate societies, and Mark Ruffalo, to name but a few.

525 names may seem small. But as a volunteer-run organisation, everything we do is the result of working for a cause during our free time.

Soon, Westminster will receive those letters, and even if the campaign does not result in direct change, it sends a crucial message: Across the UK, fracking is not welcome - not here, not anywhere.

Image credit: UKYCC/Twitter

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