Greenpeace blocked the road for Boris Johnson’s car on Wednesday when he went to Buckingham Palace to formally become Britain’s new prime minister. Activists say their aim is to highlight the need to deal with climate emergencies.
Greenpeace activists join hands across the Mall when Johnson walks to meet the Queen. They planned to submit a letter to Johnson detailing how to end the climate crisis, but were quickly dissolved by the police.
The action made Boris Johnson’s viral in the English media, and triggered the response of several political figures, including green party leader Natalie Bennett. She tweeted satire on Twitter, that the protest was a “reminder for Boris Johnson, if the AC made him forget”.
The protest took place just before the Queen asked Johnson to form a government, after Theresa May’s resignation as prime minister and his victory in the Conservative party leadership contest. Then on Wednesday night, hundreds of people returned to gather at Russell Square in London to protest Johnson and the government’s rise. The demo, nicknamed “fck govt fck boris”
One of the demonstrators, Lois Ward-Marvin, 23, a tattoo artist, said “I don’t want Boris Johnson to be prime minister. The people who chose him were white men. He was racist, sexist, homophobic, and I don’t think he was right— really want to bring change for good.”
Despite anger at the new prime minister, the demonstration as a whole seemed peaceful and there were no arrests. The second protest is planned to be held again on September 20.
Pessimism Against New British PM
BoJo has been a character of polarization for years. From the Mayor of London, the Conservative leader, to the British prime minister, many environmental activists have ridiculed his voice record on matters relating to climate change. Now after he was at the top of the executive position, environmentalists demanded concrete steps from new British leaders after he stepped through the door of 10 Downing Street.
Greenpeace UK, questioning whether Boris will put environmental issues in the government’s main agenda. Through his executive director, John Sauven considered Borris’s attitude confusing and very ambiguous. He termed “many encouraging statements, which can give hope to people who care about the state of our planet, and many statements that make the same person hopeless”.
Meanwhile, commentators and environmental activists claimed to have been frustrated at Johnson’s perception that he was considered less enthusiastic about embracing climate change as an important part of his policy. Some are even unhappy with Johnson’s alliance with US president Donald Trump, after Trump reportedly said he did not believe reports that documented the effects of climate change.
Boris Johnson’s Track Record in Environmental Issues
Boris Johnson was portrayed by some British media and environmental activists as clowns, racists, liars and fanatics. But on the other hand its luxurious nature and humorous humor also allows it to avoid criticism and win the hearts of conservative voters.
Throughout his political career, Johnson has built a track record that seems inconsistent in terms of environmental issues. He campaigned on promises to overcome pollution and provide incentives for low emission technology, but the implementation was assessed as being in place.
When he was mayor of London, Johnson reduced London’s congestion zone, an initiative to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic entering the center of London, giving incentives for people to switch to public transportation or cycling.
Johnson later announced that London would move to a ‘Very Low Emission Zone’ which would only allow low-emission or zero vehicles, such as electric vehicles, to enter the center of London. But again, Johnson did not realize his political promise.
Then when he became foreign minister, Johnson reduced the number of diplomats involved in climate change negotiations by as much as two-thirds, with cuts taking place right when countries gathered to negotiate the Paris Agreement. Reflecting on Johnson’s track record, environmentalists predict that he will continue the climate policy developed by his predecessor, Theresa May.
Brexit to Determine British Energy and Environmental Policy
Meanwhile, political analysts and international analysts predict the possible reality is that Brexit will continue to dominate the British political agenda at least for the foreseeable future.
Johnson is considered to be taking a hard approach to Brexit. Brexit will separate Britain from the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, which has experienced a significant recovery in carbon permit prices over the past two years, currently trading around € 30 per ton.
After a shaky start in carbon permit prices, following the economic slowdown triggered by the European debt crisis, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme has resurfaced as an effective market signal to reduce emissions in the bloc which covers around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The British government has promised to set new carbon prices for UK polluters, but the final details of this arrangement will depend on the results of the Brexit negotiations.
Time will tell how Johnson’s prime minister will have an impact on Britain’s climate and energy policies. In line with Greenpeace, many analysts are wary of the potential influence that US President Donald Trump might have in alienating Johnson from international cooperation on climate change.