West Londoners, we’re the butt of a joke that’s gone viral and is getting funnier as it gains traction. And all because we’re sleeping with Heathrow. Well, sleepwalking.
After decades of apathy the global meerkats are shrieking and people everywhere but here are scrambling to their feet to wage war on CO2. In India, America, Australia, they’re pushing against the might of big business to turn away from fossil fuel.
Meanwhile, nestled under Heathrow’s monolithic wingspan, we noiselessly exist. Planes rage overhead leaving their emissions ringing in our lungs and driving a carbonized nail into the coffin of humanity.
We just roll over and go back to sleep as commissions and politicians say Heathrow needs to get even bigger, and it is a good idea to send an extra 260,000 planes over our homes. That’s 740,000 a year, and a lot more pollution.
The global community points at us and laughs. Across the world normal people, much like you and me, are in the midst of a dirty great cage fight with heavy-polluting industry. Keep fossil fuels in the ground, under the sea, just don’t dig them up and for heaven’s sake, don’t burn them. They’re calling for divestment and demanding politicians immediately rethink how we power our lives.
‘Nimbyism’ is no longer a pejorative term. Communities are boycotting the construction of new oilfields, pipelines, fracking, coal plants in their back yards. This will not go ahead. Not in my name, or on my watch. To halt warming at 2°C and stave off the horror of rising sea levels, scorched farmland, unprecedented global migration and a desperate cat-fight to survive.
They pause as they charge into battle, glance over at us snuggled against the world’s biggest airport as it sets to grow bigger, and they laugh. At us, the thesps and creatives of west London, the academics and entrepreneurs, doctors and businesspeople, journalists and teachers, raising our kids in a downy nest of coffee shops and Boden catalogues.
Emerge from under the duck-down duvet, west London! Roll over and look at your bedfellow square in the face. Glance at that alarm clock ticking away at your bedside.
Meeting the UK’s commitments to the 2°C characterisation of ‘dangerous climate change’ poses huge challenges for policymakers, businesses and wider civil society. The rest of the world realise that policymakers and businesses will continue to dig for as long as we, the people, allow it.
Paris delegates left aviation out of the COP21 agreement. So that makes us, the people, responsible to halt the rise and rise of the industry.
Heathrow is in our back yard. This is our fight. No more runways until aviation is decarbonised.
Another runway will lock us ever more fatally into a fossil fuel dependency that the rest of the world is laughing at.
Your voice counts, so start laughing too. And loudly.