jackie bond green candidate vauxhall joining extinction rebellion

Seeing the extent of environmental destruction in 2015, Jackie Bond started volunteering for the Green Party in Southwark, SE London. In the last year, aside for standing for the Greens in Vauxhall and doubled their share of the vote, she has worked extensively with Extinction Rebellion, organising civil actions in pursuit of radical climate action. In this interview with Nick Breeze, Jackie discusses how she got involved in XR, why we need to put the climate crisis at the centre of policymaking, and her strategy for creating change in the UK.


Filmed interview with Jackie Bond

NB: What got you to be where you are today as a green candidate running to be an MP?

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JB: Initially I got into this about 6 years ago and I always try to think about how I found out about how terrible the situation the world was in. I can’t remember, I just remember suddenly being immersed in reading 20-30 articles a day on climate change, destruction of rain forests, all our biomes just catapulting out of control.

I was thinking that this situation was abysmal and it wasn’t satisfied by having some knowledge of climate change given to us in school. It felt like there was a blanket of lies about how this was being communicated. If you looked you could find the truth that was out there but it wasn’t being presented to you upfront.

NB: When you found this out, had this realisation, what made you think I know, I’ll run to become an MP?

JB: The first thing I did go to was a Green Party event in Southwark. I started being quite active with them. I started saying, ‘Hey, let’s make huge events and have assemblies to get people talking about this.’.

They were not as motivated as people are now to think that enough people would gather for these audiences. There was not enough of a public opening or gesture saying ‘we care for the climate’. So I became forlorn that there was not a movement for this in the way that we need to really have.

Now all these years later, movements like Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Greta Thunberg, Fridays For Future, they have opened the conversation.

NB: You have had some involvement with Extinction Rebellion, can you talk a bit about that?

JB: In April I was not part of it. I had heard of it from a couple of friends but I was sort of dubious of it. I thought, ‘Who are these upstarts? Are they going to ruin everything? They probably think they know everything and are going to destroy the environmental movement, not that there is much of it, because they are going to get everyone really annoyed with it’.

I was very critical but actually ended up completely changing my mind when I realised they’d had a huge impact. After April everyone had heard about it and suddenly a climate emergency was declared. I gave up all my grief about it; I obviously wanted to join!

So I joined in early July and I never looked back. I have been doing it every day since.

NB: One of the things I hear a lot of and I heard this week in a talk I went to is people talking about 2050 as a target to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero. If you look at the rate of change that we are seeing now with 1ºC warming, and then you listen to politicians say we are going to phase out emissions by 2050… will there be anyone left in 2050 for that to be okay?

JB: If you say net-zero at 2050 it means almost nothing because we don’t know the rate of exponential change, it might not be linear, we might have catastrophic methane events, we don’t know what that is. The sooner we say the date and pull towards the nearest date to now as possible then we have tighter control over what it might be that we are going to see.

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The range of potential effects of a climate shift, even within climate science, vary a lot. So we have our conservative estimates of the rate of climate change, our extreme estimates, and then IPCC states the consensus science on that which everyone can agree and these tend to be towards the lower end of these. The estimates start to vary more and more the further we go into the future.

So net-zero at 2050 means huge amounts of potentially catastrophic events compared to 2025 where you see we have quite a few differences but they are not as wide as 2050. I think 2030 is a politically sensible date to give us a legitimate period to change.

There are more sensible ways to get to net-zero and there are extreme ways to do it and there are huge swathes of differences in the solutions proposed. The sooner the better we do do it, the safer we will be.

NB: What does the future you are striving for, look like?

JB: Obviously there is no way of turning back the clock and undoing the damage that is done. For example, once a species is extinct, it is done! We also have a lot of technological solutions that mean we could have a very different world in front of us.

I don’t think we can say for sure how the future will look if we implement all the solutions. We have two kinds of environmental solutions. One goes down the natural path, and the other goes down the technological path. We will probably have to meet somewhere in the middle. We cannot just give everyone an electric car. there is just not enough cobalt in the world to power those batteries. So we will have to have a process of reduction.

We look into the future to see what we have to achieve to have a world in front of us and we see how we can get there the best way. Having these visioning processes, we keep that goal in mind and we can get ourselves there.

But if we say, ‘how can we get rid of our factories?’ or things like that, we get shot down by fears that people have about taking us away from the status quo and we never get there.

We have to imagine what our world will look like by setting absolute goals. We say we have to reach net-zero by this point. How are we going to do it? We have to revolutionise transport. How are we going to do it?

NB: So you have a series of actions?

JB: You set your targets and you find the best way of getting there. Then we ask, how can we reduce car transport? How can we make things into sustainable resources using sustainable energy? How can we improve education to make people more empowered and to give people jobs and careers that will allow people to live within a system, instead of just going for the highest paying job or going for the most status?

We need to change the way we live our lives but not by putting the onus on the person, but on society and the government which need to feed into each other, to give the right amount of pressure to make this stuff happen.

The biggest shift I would like to see is that we need to think of ourselves as being in a world that humans cannot totally control. The climate has shown us out on this one. We are not wielders of nature, we are within nature. The sooner we realise we have got to work in it, rather than against it, the sooner we can actually carry on living... We need to make changes and I think people may end up enjoying these changes!

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Find out more about Jackie Bond on her website: Jacquelinebond.com