Nature and the GLD Conference in Nottingham in June
By Keith Melton
Focusing on Nature - the 2019 Green Lib Dem Conference
Planning for the 2019 Green Liberal Democrat conference in Nottingham on 15th June is now hotting up and will take off rapidly once the Local elections are done and dusted. I have just finalised my leaflet for the last week of my campaign and sent it off to the printers and, although I am planning a canvassing trip later, I have found a few minutes to update you on how the conference is coming along. My leaflet (this will not surprise you!) concentrates on the Climate Change emergency and our response to the XR activity over the last couple of weeks - I will let you all know how it works out in next week`s vote.
There will be several strands at the conference and, as last year, delegates may complain about having to choose between the various things you would love to be at. I know I want to be in ALL the sessions, which will be impossible, so you may have some difficult decisions to make. However, we hope to improve on the live-streaming process at this year`s conference, and the recording thereof, so that you can catch up on missed sessions after you get home. We almost got it right last year but hope to have mastered the art for the sessions this year.
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Information about the threats to nature have been hitting us hard and fast for the last eighteen months, so we have chosen to concentrate a bit more this year on the natural world around us and already have an excellent group of speakers for the "Nature" strands.
Richard Hebditch from the National Trust will be talking about some of the key challenges and opportunities for the natural environment of the many properties and swathes of land owned and managed by the National Trust, ranging from habitat enhancement for wildlife in the grounds of their properties, to carbon capture possibilities of wetlands and coastal erosion problems facing their coastal walks.
Our own Cllr Pippa Heylings will be enlightening us about the opportunities and responsibilities that many more of us (we hope!) will face when we are elected to local authorities around the country. Opportunities and responsibilities associated with the natural environment being affected by decisions councillors make. Pippa is spearheading the environmental action on South Cambridgeshire District Council and is passionate about protecting and enhancing the state of "Nature" - she also knows a thing or two about the powers available to local councillors if you know where to look! We will also hear about some specific species and the problems they face from enthusiasts in their fields (both subject fields and actual fields!)
Hugh Warwick is widely known as "Hedgehog Hugh" and has written about the life and times of this iconic species. His great concern is about the fragmentation of our natural environment and the impact that has upon many species, not least upon the lives of hedgehogs. When I was a lad, we always had hedgehogs in the garden and when I was a younger adult with my own garden we would have regular visits and occasionally a hedgehog would find a nice spot to over-winter and sometimes nest during the summer under one of our Leylandiis behind the garage. These days they are rarely around, and I don`t remember a single visit last year. Hugh will no doubt explain why.
Mya-Rose Craig is also known as "Birdgirl" and has been a watcher of birds since being a young child. Still only 16, Birdgirl is an active blogger about birds and the environmental problems they face. She has a huge following on social media and is better-known amongst young people than virtually all politicians in the country. I hope she will create a lot of interest in our youth wing and bring some younger faces to our GLD conference. Someone needs to carry the baton as we older members slip towards our dotage.
Young people making the difference!
Carrying on the Youth theme, Pushkin Choudhury has been investigating the School-strikes phenomenon started by Greta Thunberg that has gone viral recently. Pushkin has also been involved with, and has been studying, the eXtinction Rebellion movement which has burgeoned recently across the world and, more specifically in London and the UK. Still only 15 himself, it was his early enthusiasm for environmental issues that brought his mum Almona into Lib Dem politics and into the Green Liberal Democrat orbit, where her prompted enthusiasm and frequent postings on the website are, in turn, enthusing others to join GLD. So, Pushkin Choudhury will be speaking at the conference in June. Also, if there are enough younger delegates at the conference, Pushkin has indicated a willingness to Chair a separate session - probably a brief one in the afternoon - to consider future Young GLD Action.
Also Cllr Jane Brophy (who, as No 2 on the Lib Dem euro list for the North West, may, by then, be an MEP?!) will take a view on the Greta Thunberg focus, as to how it may relate to our European links and links with the Green Party here in the UK. Clearly eXtinction Rebellion is an international activist community and has already changed the debate about Climate Change. How this will play out in Europe and whether we as Liberal Democrats (and maybe Jane as a GREEN Liberal Democrat) can help to focus the debate is yet to be seen.
There is little doubt that rising sea levels will soon be having a major impact on Nature, as well as on the coastal living spaces of the over-populous human species. It is clear from recent research papers that Arctic and Antarctic ice accumulations are under threat of melting. The huge quantities of ice stacked on top of Greenland have recently been found to be melting much faster than previous assumptions had indicated. Professor Edward Hanna, based at Lincoln university, will be at the GLD Conference to explain to us how threatening these recent research findings may be for the natural world. He will also be looking at the effect Climate Change is likely to have over the next few years on sea levels and how these forces aqre driving increased rapidity of ice-melts at and near our polar regions. (Picture - Original customs building in Guanabara Bay in Rio - KMM)
In a different vein, Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND and our own Baroness Sue Miller have undertaken to debate the issues relating to Nuclear Weapons and the Environment. So I think we can expect a wide ranging discussion covering the various links between a world full of ageing nuclear weapons and their potential for damage. No doubt, their talks will also range over the very dangerous threats of accidental incidents in transport and storage of warheads, as well as the huge opportunity costs of building weapons everyone hopes we will never use. And they will probably consider the environmental "goods" we could have bought with the same investment. This debate is not just about Trident, although that will clearly feature large in a UK context.
Go here to book your Conference place>>> greenlibdems.org.uk/gldconf2019