Hazel, aged 39, does what she can to fight global warming from her family home in Beauchief. She does not drive. She buys clothes from charity shops and she does not eat meat.
But despite the efforts of her own family, teacher Hazel feels she cannot do it all on her own and says the world’s leaders need to make changes too.
So she will be heading to Glasgow for two days of protest with Extinction Rebellion on Saturday, staying with a friend while she is there.
She does not know if the leaders will see her protest – but she wants to make it clear that people want action and change.
Cop 26 protest planned at Devonshire Green in Sheffield
While she is in Glasgow, a smaller protest is due to take place in Sheffield, with the Sheffield COP26 Climate Justice Protest on Saturday, November 6 at noon at Devonshire Green.
Hazel has previously lived in London and Singapore, but moved to Sheffield with her husband, who was born and raised in the city. She loves Sheffield and its wide open spaces.
She said: “I’ve always been very aware of trying to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. I’m vegetarian, and my husband is vegan. I use public transport as much as possible and we walk the school run. I try to keep my consumption of clothes low and buy as much as I can from charity shops.
“But we can all only do so much as individuals – we need system change to bring about a climate-safe future.”
She thinks making Sheffield's public transport system better and cheaper would be one example of a system change that would help.
Public transport ‘not as good as it could be’
She said: “I’m from London and I’ve lived in Singapore a long time. Compared to London and Singapore, I feel frustrated that the public transport system in Sheffield is not as good as it could be. I don’t drive, but I feel frustrated waiting for a bus for a long time in the rain if services are late.
“I’d also like to see more things recycled here in the city. I’m doing as much as I can in terms of lifestyle.”
She said she had the support of her husband and children, although some relatives did not agree with protests blocking roads.
“We move immediately if there are ambulances coming. I’ve seen that happen,” she said.
“But historically, a lot of rights have been won through protest.”
The mum-of-two is heading to Glasgow on Friday, ahead of the protests at the conference, COP26, in which world leaders gather to discuss and plan their response to the climate emergency. It is the 26th annual summit running from October 31 until November 12.
She said: “I’ll be joining thousands of people on the streets of Glasgow in protest at the lack of action being taken by world leaders to drastically curb CO2 emissions. To put it simply, I’m terrified for my children and for future generations, whose future is unsafe. We really have such a limited time to turn things around, and our world leaders are not committing to the drastic measures we need.
“We know that we absolutely must keep fossil fuels in the ground to try to limit future harm, and yet the UK government is considering expanding our fossil fuel industry by authorising a new deep coal mine in Cumbria and a huge new oil field, in Cambo off the coast of Scotland. If these projects go ahead, they will commit the UK to reliance on fossil fuels for many years to come, at a time when we urgently need to invest in and transition to renewable energy sources.”
She understands that not everyone wants to see protests, but Hazel believes that the world is now at an absolutely pivotal point in human history where it is make or break for humanity, and she believes desperate times call for desperate measures.
Non-violent direct action
She added: “It’s also worth considering that many rights have been won historically through non violent direct action - this was a key tactic of the Civil Rights movement and of the Suffragettes, but many people disagreed with their tactics at the time.
“It’s also important to note that you can still be part of the climate movement without engaging in this type of action. I joined Extinction Rebellion in August and was surprised to learn how many different interest groups there are within my local Sheffield group, such as an art group who make banners and signs, a samba band, a rebel gardeners group who do outreach through seed giveaways and a group for young families. Being part of the climate movement, and in Extinction Rebellion, makes me feel like I’m part of a community that is engaged in the fight for climate justice and for a safer future for children and families.
“I’m not a climate scientist but it’s clear to me that if global temperatures exceed the 1.5C threshold, an average temperature increase of 2 degrees is far preferable to 3C or 4C, in terms of what this means for our planet’s ecosystems and for humanity’s chance of survival.”
Climate change protests
Sheffield has already seen a number of climate change protests in recent years.
Hazel says not everyone will be going to protest in Glasgow – but says she would encourage those in Sheffield who feel strongly about the issue to to join the protest in Sheffield on Saturday afternoon.