Hackney Council’s eco chief hosts tree giveaway to tackle climate change - as he lends support to Extinction Rebellion campaigners

Cllr Jon Burke who is giving away dozens of saplings

Cllr Jon Burke who is giving away dozens of saplings - Credit: Jon Burke

Hackney’s eco chief is hosting a tree giveaway out of his own pocket, as a day-to-day means to tackle the “huge and urgent” problem that global warming presents.

Jon Burke bought 210 native tree saplings from the Woodland Trust last week to both celebrate National Tree Week and in response to the Climate Change Committee’s announcement that we need to double tree planting in the UK.

“The problem is huge - it’s not even a problem. It’s the problem, and the requirement for us to act grows more urgent by the day,” he said.

“California is on fire in November, national politicians are tone deaf to the urgent warnings of the scientific community about the impending global warming crisis and half the – admittedly woeful – Cabinet has just resigned in protest at not being able to realise their ambition of turning the UK in to a post-Brexit open air Thunderdome.”

Jon, who has vowed to “expend every last ounce of energy” in “staving off the apocalypse”, and is behind the council’s plan to set up a solar energy company.

But he bought the trees as an exercise in “outrospective empathy” disseminated by the author Roman Krznaric.

“That is, actively building social solidarity through dialogue and organising, acting in a material way upon the issues about which you are concerned, and working with others to magnify these efforts,” said Jon.

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So far he’s managed to shift around 50 pollinating saplings, leaving him with 160 for anyone who is prepared to put in the aftercare.

All he asks is that all trees get planted, and he is even happy to pitch in to make that happen.

“I’m offering the trees for free in a personal capacity, but using my role a councillor to get the word out,” he said.

“Buying, offering, and distributing the trees is just one side of “outrospective empathy”. The other involves people being willing to plant and care for these little silver bullets in the fight against global warming.”

At the council’s Sustainability Day on Saturday Burke spoke in support of the campaign group Extinction Rebellion which blocked five London bridges that day, leading to the arrests of 82 activists.

“I support Extinction Rebellion’s plan for mass, peaceful civil disobedience to make tone-deaf politicians sit up and take notice,” said Jon. “I think they’re on the right side of history.”

Email jburkepaperwork@gmail.com.