Protesters marched to the council house to demand that Birmingham City Council acts on it’s commitment to net zero by 2030.

Campaigners from a wide range of organisations including teachers and lecturer’s unions, Extinction Rebellion and Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future joined a Birmingham Climate Justice Coalition march for Saturday’s COP28 Day of Action. The Birmingham demo, pausing outside the Council Hall surrounded by German Christmas Market shoppers, was one of 45 around the UK that called for collective action on climate that addresses racial, economic and social justice and other equalities issues, and also for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Outside the Council House Brandwood and King’s Heath Cllr Lisa Trickett, who is co-chair of Labour Party environment campaign SERA, said that “We have to change the way we invest”.

“We have been working and campaigning to ensure climate stays way up the political agenda for the Labour Party… The commitment to invest and commitment to change is as good as we feel it’s going to get at the moment. £28 billion a year – we have to hold that Labour government to it”.

“We need to take community with us – that is very much something we are campaigning for within the party”.

Trickett, who is co-founder of public policy co-operative Places in Common added, “I’m a politician, I work in climate but above all I’m really proud I was the mum of one of the original climate strikers. I owe it to my children, your children and their children to make sure we deliver that change”.

 Green Party councillor for Druids Heath and Monyhull Julien Pritchard said that in his ward “people are having to make really horrible choices between heating and eating, and that’s not the situation we should be in in the 21st century in one of the most developed countries in the world.

“It’s solutions that tackle fuel poverty, that make sure those people are supported with their housing that will deliver climate justice and get us where we need to be”.

“Since the council issued a climate emergency declaration in 2019, progress has been “glacial,” Cllr Pritchard said.

“With the council’s current crisis, barely anyone’s talking about climate [or] climate justice,” he added.

“We got the climate declaration in massive part because of climate strikers and climate movement.

“It needs people to be holding the council to account to get that action and get that pressure back up. We need to make it difficult for the council to forget about climate”.

David Room, secretary of Birmingham NEU, said “The NEU condemns the government’s retreat from climate plans already considered inadequate to meet net zero targets. We condemn the government’s commitment to the further extraction of fossil fuels.”

He added: “We are clear that COP28 and the Tory government cannot be trusted to take the important and urgent decisions needed to effectively tackle the climate crisis. We are also clear that Labour’s ambitions to ramp up net zero investment to £28billion must not be watered down.”

Chair of UCU at Birmingham City University Rhiannon Lockley said, “They’re trying to silence our children but our students know better. They’re standing up for themselves and they’re standing up for their future. We, their teachers, stand behind them”.

Rhiannon also delivered a message of solidarity from UCU colleagues that were marching on Saturday in support of a free Palestine. She said: “This issue of justice for the Palestinians cannot be separated from the issue of climate justice and the fight for a better future.”

 John Nightingale from Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future said: “It’s worth mentioning that some 80% of the world’s population have connections with religious faiths and the teaching of all religious faiths includes protecting the planet, our common home, and caring for the lives of future generations. The message, the teaching, is all there already. It’s just a matter of putting it into effect.”

 Rajan Naidu from Extinction Rebellion said: “The struggle for climate justice is inseparable from the struggle for human rights & social justice. Banks like Barclays & HSBC know this. They invest in fossil fuels & at the same time finance weapons systems that are used to inflict genocide on the Palestinian people.”

Doug Morgan from Stand Up To Racism was also marching. He said: “While oil deals flow at the COP28 summit, thousands across the world are marching today to show that the time for climate action is now… The rich, hunting dirty profits are stealing our future.”

BCJC has collected more than 700 signatures from individuals and support from over 30 local organisations for a petition calling for Birmingham City Council to honour its commitment to Net Zero. After Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Majid Mahmood declared he couldn’t accept the petition because it includes issues outside his portfolio, the campaigners say they are postponing handing it in to the council until they can find a Cabinet Member who will receive it.

“Environmental issues and social justice issues are two sides of the same coin,” BCJC said in a statement.

“Environmental policies that do not also improve the lives of the vast majority of people are not policies worth pursuing. Our demand is for investment in the environment and in people. Without both there will be no just transition, in Birmingham or elsewhere”.