by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Hayden Redhead and supporters engage in Global Climate Strike
- Locals openly criticise campaign to demand radical action by government, local NGOs and church leaders
- Non-enforcement of Abatement of Litter Act is cause for concern
Hayden Redhead has single-handled taken on a global environmental campaign in Grenada to raise awareness and demand radical action by our government, local NGOs and church leaders to not just engage in talks, but take decisive action to initiate the complete ban on fossil fuels and other environmentally harmful substances.
Redhead along with a few of his supporters are undertaking this climate strike locally, but they are joined by millions of protesters from around the world in solidarity with the planet as they engage in “Global Climate Strike”.
On Friday, 29 November 2019, Redhead stood near the Morne Rouge roundabout with placards inscribed “Ban fossil fuels. Go Green” and #climatestrike written on his t-shirt. His location put him in direct view of drivers without affecting the flow of traffic, and those in support showed their solidarity by tooting their horns or stopping to register their support.
Redhead was accompanied by his 9-year-old son Jared, a student of Westmorland Secondary, who held placards that read “There is no planet B” and a picture of the globe with a sign that said “Help!” Their protest is also timely as the United Nations 2019 Climate Change Conference, COP25, has begun talks from Monday 2, December in Madrid, Spain.
Redhead was asked whether the government is moving fast enough to address local environmental concerns. He said that although the government must be congratulated for steps taken so far to implement a ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, he believes more can be done. “The easy answer is no we are not moving fast enough. The environment and ecosystem are degrading at a faster rate and we are acting just as slowly as we did 20 years ago,” he said.
This is the second protest Redhead has staged; the first in September was dubbed “Global Climate Strike” where it was estimated that 7.5 million people globally took part by taking to the streets.
The need for enforcement of legislation such as the Abatement of Litter Act is also cause for concern. “We have rampant dumping of garbage all over this country and very little is done about it. We have an Abatement of Litter Act that as far as I am led to understand, the police have no papers so they can’t charge you if you litter right in front of them. So, if you are going to take the steps to implement policy then you have to enforce it,” he said.
Redhead, who is commonly referred to as “Facebook Environmentalist” for his social media activism, has also taken the initiative to develop a simple climate manifesto to explain what an ordinary man can do to protect the environment. He also teaches young children about biodiversity and the impacts of climate change. However, despite his calls for action and receiving the support of many, Redhead said there are those locally who have openly criticised his approach to this issue.
“There needs to be a greater emphasis on management and educating the population because I have found in Grenada, that strange looks I get and the negativity from the population that I have gotten so far it is amazing. The people who honk and give me a thumbs-up are almost invariable foreigners. The locals give me a hard time, they don’t think we have a problem,” he said.
A major part of his protest is to raise awareness of the need for the government to strike a healthy balance between development and conservation.
“The air we breathe is not the same. The beaches are polluted. There are people who would not bathe on the Grand Anse beach anymore and for us to have gotten to that stage now says we have to take this seriously and we are still developing as if there is no tomorrow. Now I welcome the development, I love the jobs they bring, the income to the country, but we must force our leaders to strike an appropriate balance between development and the destruction of our ecosystem,” Redhead said.
Redhead said he will continue to push for legislative and real-time change through his activism and hopes that more people can come on board and assist in this global campaign.