Last Thursday in Derby our local climate change coalition organised 2 meetings around ZeroCarbon Britain, and we were fortunate to have Peter Harper, the Head of Research and Innovation from the Centre for Alternative Technology, up to speak on the report. Quite a lot of work went into the organising; there were 30 people, at the seminar (which was organised in partnership with the Council’s Climate Change unit) and 65 at the meeting in the evening. We are maged an interview on Radio Derby and today there was a reference on Radio 4’s You and Yours to Zero Carbon Britain and our meeting (an email from one of our activists was read out).Starting the discussion from the view of where we need to get to and looking at some of the options makes a lot of sense and both overcame divisions and highlighted the need to question some of the assumptions. See the attached slide. Interestingly there was nobody identifiably from the trade union movement.
At the end of the evening meeting we spent some time talking about the fragmentation of the movement, the need for local coalitions and the need to tie in with national initiatives. The audience was extremely receptive. 7-8 said they would be going to the demonstration in London on December 4th.
Our experience is that there is a gulf between the anti-cut and the green movements. That is why we distributed the Alliance leaflet on the Comprehensive Spending Review at the Trades Council organised cuts protest on Saturday, see the attached, hoping it might draw in some of the anti-cuts people towards the Green agenda. We know that some greens are in favour of cuts (‘a necessary evil’) and are not at all sympathetic to trade unionists.
Hence somebody wrote to one of us saying “a line should be drawn between climate change campaigning and the more traditionally political campaigning …..If I may simplify my view greatly – we have all been living unsustainable lifestyles, and this will end. The ‘flyer’ suggests that cutting public spending costs more than continuing it. And yet we have a massive debt and can obviously not afford to continue spending as we have done. We have enjoyed, and this includes the trade union members, a standard of general wealth and luxury unprecedented in human history – and completely unsustainable, as you know very well. It is inevitable that luxuries of all kinds will disappear, and we will undoubtedly come to see, in the near future, a lot of the public spending that we have become accustomed to, as luxury spending. The argument that is often trotted out “Our members didn’t cause this situation – its all the bankers” doesn’t; stand up to any intelligent scrutiny. I have never worked in the public sector, and I don’t believe that I caused this economic situation, either. The simple truth is that, as a nation, we have all got used to living beyond our means, and that has to end. While its fair game to argue about the details of some of the changes that will happen, to argue that cut-backs must be resisted across the board, on principle, is dangerously self-deluding. “
While we disagree we think it is important to recognise the gaps and to try to build a bridge.
Another way, perhaps easier, is to push the Million Green Jobs.
Would be interested to hear your experiences.
Coalition comprising a number of local groups active in addressing the solutions to climate change.