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The World is on Fire

January 6, 2020 8:20 PM
By Keith Melton

The World is on Fire

Forest fireI feel sure you have been moved, like me, by some of the recent sights we have seen on TV and in the newspapers of Australia on fire, as it has been for months. We worried when the Amazon lost nearly a million hectares to fires starting last January. We continued to be concerned as over two and a half million hectares of Siberian Steppes were lost to ash later in the year. Now Australia is facing a loss of more than five million hectares of bushland, including many homes and many human lives already - as well as huge losses of animal life, including, perhaps whole species being lost to the flames.

And still the Australian conservative Prime Minister and his cohorts refuse to acknowledge Climate Change as a human induced catastrophe. They still `big-up` their coal industry and have failed to plan adequately for the consequences of Climate Change. But they are not alone in their climate denial. Bolsonaro, in Brazil, and Trump in the USA are no better.

Combatting a Tory Hegemony

In this country, the failed electoral system - the First Past the Post fraud - has delivered a massive majority for the Tories and a slap in the face for Liberal Democrat hopes of an increase in MPs, despite a significant increase in our vote share. Johnson pledged to "get Brexit done", warned of dire consequences of electing Corbyn, and refused to participate in a Climate change debate

His majority will clearly give the Johnson Government a relatively easy time in Parliament for the next few years, so we will have to take the fight to them in other areas. During the election Johnson gave minimal lip-service to Global warming, but talk of quashing the fracking moratorium and a casual disregard of possible action to reduce greenhouse gases suggest Climate Change is currently very low on the Tory agenda.

Climate Action and Community Politics

It rather looks, therefore, that we will have to use our strengths to combat the Tory overlordship in other than the parliamentary arena. Liberal Democrats have shown ourselves to be past masters at developing local community based strengths where we have the devoted people to bring communities together on local issues in particular. In this case we have devoted climate and environmental activists all around the country, many already involved as councillors and/or activists in their own areas. Perhaps you can see where this discussion is going as I raise the possibility of establishing a Summer School alongside the Annual GLD conference?

GLD conference & Summer School

The Green Liberal Democrat Annual Conference will be held in Nottingham again in 2020. The delayed AGM of the Green Lib Dems, the calling of the General election and other factors at the end of last year threw a spanner into the works as far as the location of the 2020 GLD Conference was concerned. We had been planning on moving the conference around the country. Without going into great detail, the net result is that we have decided to bring the GLD conference back to Nottingham in June of 2020 because we know the venue back to front and know we will get an excellent welcome and excellent service.

June and the Summer School…

The GLD conference will be held in June, most likely on Saturday June 20th (with a backstop of 13th June) so pencil those dates in your diaries if you wish to attend this year. We are also looking at the possibility of extending the conference to a second day with the idea that we could hold a Summer School, especially for activists and Councillors, not least those NEW councillors we expect to get in May around the country!

Green Hustings...?

We have also asked the powers that be to hold a Green Hustings for the Leadership campaign again this year, as the campaign period covers the GLD conference date. If we get appropriate permission it will probably be held together with the East Midlands Hustings again, as it was last year.

Whilst the Climate Catastrophe is a fully Global issue, seen most recently in finding Australia on fire, many of the effects of Climate change do bring local issues to the fore. For example, flooding which happens as a result of extreme weather events brings chaos and destruction in localities which may previously have escaped harm. Local wildlife numbers may be affected by extreme winter conditions - either too cold or too warm and mild.

Locally based Lib Dem environmentalists, together with as yet unpoliticised citizens with an increasing environmental awareness and conscience, and other green political activists from other parties, can create a groundswell of environmental concern which is capable of challenging local conservative political bases.

Pippa Heylings, in South East Cambridgeshire for example, has made great strides to not only declare a Climate emergency locally, but the Lib Pippa - GH#1Dem ruling group on the SE Cambs DC is already addressing some potential issues. We would love to share this experience as widely as possible and over the next few weeks we will be talking with ALDC and the Liberal Group on the Local Government Association, to put together a really detailed programme for a summer School which will share best practice from around the country.

All being well the date for our conference and potential Summer School will soon be fixed but get ready to take advantage of early bird prices as soon as the dates are fixed and announced. The GLD executive has already decided to keep prices the same for GLD members as last year by subsidising the conference if necessary. Non-members may be required to pay a little more if inflation hits us for the delegate day rate - so if you are in any doubt, join the Green Lib Dems now so you can take advantage of our price-freeze.

Keith Melton

Vice Chair (Campaigns)

Green Liberal Democrats