As we are a community group we are always pleased to have additional voices discussing environmental issues… over to you Tony!
I have been talking with a friend during the last week of the Tory party’s election of a new PM and the policy priorities emerging therefrom. We both feel alarmed by not only the lack of attention to the climate emergency but, even worse, the floating of some ideas which will diminish the effectiveness of our response to a disaster that is already happening and will get much worse for all of us within the next 20 to 30 years, if not sooner, unless we take steps now, which should have been taken 30 to 40 years ago.
Mrs Truss has said, for example, that she might remove speed limits on motorways, which will simply increase significantly the release of carbon into the atmosphere. She has suggested that she might support the removal of existing onshore wind turbines, where some locals object to them, and restrict the introduction of solar farms. She apparently will do nothing about sewage dumping and has proposed ending a levy designed to provide funding for green projects. Our local MP, who has been appointed Energy Minister, has talked of re-starting fracking, despite the risks and the end product, which is fossil fuel. Never an enthusiast for the evidence of climate change, he has recklessly proposed draining every drop of gas and oil out of the North Sea. He is concerned about the cost of taking action about the crisis. The state of Pakistan at the moment would seem to highlight the foolishness of that. He seems to be unaware of the facts that renewables are much safer and cheaper than fossil fuels – and nuclear. The latter, of course, is a legacy Johnson has tried to leave us with.
We and others we have spoken to regard such proposals and the irresponsible attitudes they conceal as madness. What can be done about this issue when only one political party, the Greens, seems to have a policy which makes the fullest sense – and the will to do something about it? An obvious answer is to join the Greens but a political party is about more than a single issue and most folk are either in another party or none for a multitude of reasons. It seems to me and to many others that those of us who agree with my analysis must get together to ensure that the attitudes about the climate emergency emanating from the current government are effectively resisted and to try to ensure that the Tories do not become the next Government,.unless they change dramatically. I think the most effective way of doing this, if you live in a Tory constituency, is to swallow your overall principles and get involved with those who share our views in the party in your area which has better green attitudes than the Tories and which is currently the most likely to be the most serious challenger at the next General Election. If you are already a member of a party not likely to unseat the Tories then try to persuade them not to put up a candidate at the next election and support the ‘most likely’ party. That, I believe, is the only way the Tories will be stopped from bringing on a climate catastrophe, unless there is a collapse in their support. A flaw in this argument is, unfortunately, that the Labour party is acting as the second biggest party, most likely to benefit from a coalition, progressive government, but not willing to step aside in places where they do not have much of a chance.
There are one or two other possibilities. You could join a protest group, such as Extinction Rebellion or Climate Exchange, which is non-party political, and campaign on climate issues. Another is, of course, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. A third option is called Compass, which is in some ways like a think tank for progressives, producing papers and meetings which consider a wide variety of issues to help us become a better society. They are currently working hard to facilitate the ‘most likely’ party idea but have always supported focussed action on green issues. All of these can be contacted on Google.
Finally, my friend and I, as members of Transition Keynsham, part of the national Transition movement, support its efforts to promote green policies locally, from litter to solar panels to helping to insulate buildings. I have just read an article, “Citizen Power”. This is a description of communities working for a greener Europe, which, inter alia, involves producing and consuming energy LOCALLY. Two million Europeans are said to be involved in 7000 local energy communities across the Continent, encouraged by EU directives promoting green energy and energy communities. As electric vehicles, heat pumps, solar, wind and other systems take the place of fossil fuels, highly centralised power stations and grids will not be able to cope with the dissemination of energy. A senior researcher of Greta, an EU-funded initiative working for ‘energy citizenship’ says the only way forward is ‘to decentralise more … produce and consume more energy locally … and boost storage and smart solutions for efficient energy management’. They are aiming for 80% + of EU households taking an active part ultimately.
Examples are then described of communities across Europe not only producing energy locally but also much more CHEAPLY compared with centralised , fossil fuel systems. Ur Beroa in Spain is a very successful co-operative. Portugal has 100 communities in action with 2000 more waiting for permission. Steven Volkers of Grunneger Power in Holland, another co-operative, said the co-operative was born out of people’s ‘passion and frustration’. The Dutch Government targets 50% community owned and 30% sustainably generated electricity. In Bologna a big scheme has been underway since 2019 and caters for 6800 people, in a deprived area.with a lot of 1960’s housing.
If it looks as if we will have to do it ourselves, it’s nice to know there is a way, if we cannot replace a government which is going in the opposite direction.