PAUL Smith (Letters, October 24, 'Cycle query') raises a common misconception about the UK's relative responsibility for taking climate action, when he asks why Extinction Rebellion protesters don't "go to China or India, where the real damage is being done". There are several responses to this:

1 Every country, company and individual must do everything in its grasp to help limit the climate crisis, regardless of what others are or aren't doing.

2 The UK has a moral responsibility to lead the way on climate action because of its historic emissions. Our country became, and has remained, rich on the back of cheap fossil fuels, the burning of which is largely responsible for the climate crisis.

3 And, while on paper the UK's carbon footprint doesn't look so bad, that's largely because we don't manufacture anything. Instead, we import our stuff from China, and the emissions land on China's carbon accounts, not ours. A recent report from the Office for National Statistics said the UK has become the biggest net importer of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the G7 group of wealthy nations as a result of buying goods manufactured abroad (

If you look at what we consume, rather than what we produce, the average UK citizen’s carbon footprint is higher than that of the average Chinese citizen (

Mr Smith raises another criticism, asking whether we travelled to London on foot or by bicycle. Since he asked, I'll answer: several people did cycle the whole way from Cumbria. But the question misses the point; accusations of hypocrisy are easy, because we’re all hypocrites. Living a low-impact life is impossible in an economy built on fossil fuels, and that’s why we must focus on system change, rather than simply tinkering with our own lifestyles.

Paul also refers to the "protestors who have the luxury of two weeks to travel to London". Again this misses the point. Of course not everyone’s in a position to join the protests, which is why those who can, must. Many in our party are retired, many are self-employed and sacrificed two weeks' pay, and others took annual leave to sleep on the streets of London.

We did this because we can, on behalf of those who can’t. The alternative is to watch the next generation’s future being stolen, because not everyone is "lucky" enough to be able to take action.

Gwen Harrison