Party President, Colin Bex, attended the Climate Rising Conference, held in London on the 30th January and sends this report.
Despite FOE policy of excluding party politics from the conference (other of course than the Greens in the form of keynote speaker Caroline Lucas), and despite members of Greenpeace in attendance, otherwise their profile was invisible. One was a leading activist who I met in Paris last month and on a number of occasions previously on demonstrations for Occupy LSX and as one of its legal team members in the High Court and Appeal Court cases against eviction.
Recognising the historic importance of the United Nations COP21 - CMP11 Climate Change Conference at Paris-le-Bourget in December, the people's climate talks 'Climate Rising' conference was opened by FOE CEO Craig Bennett who reminded delegates that despite the international accord to keep global temperature rises to less than 1.5 degrees, nonetheless some national governments including Britain's remain committed to keep the world on a course for dangerous levels of global warming in excess of 3 degrees.
He noted the climate movement's support for several local campaigns in 2015 leading to stunning victories including stopping fracking in Lancashire; halting a massive proposed opencast coalmine in south Wales; and numerous successes in persuading organisations to divest from fossil fuel involvement. He recognised 'It's people who are ahead of the politicians and have the solutions to climate change - on food, on community energy and on sustainable transport' and he urged the movement to build up the pressure and force the pace for the necessary change.
As usual, my principal focus for this conference (as in Paris) was on how to ensure best exposure of our aims and objectives to as many campaigners as possible, whether or not domiciled in Wessex, and to encourage as many as I could to engage, as soon as possible after the conference, and select a constituency close to their home and prepare either to stand as an independent candidate in local and general elections if possible,or were they able - to form a new party on our regionalist model. Were they fortunate enough to live in Wessex, Mercia, Kernow, Yorkshire et al of course I encouraged them to join and stand in a constituency of their choice with the full backing of the Party concerned.
To the question 'OK but what has it to do with climate change?' I rejoined as at COP21 - CMP11 that 'It has everything to with the subject as, unless and until an appropriate, proportionally representative system of government determined by majority democratic voting is instituted, all the good work being done by an ever increasing number of responsible and brave people, (especially the young now who are being threatened with imprisonment for taking the civil direct action necessary against fracking) any such campaign against it is doomed to failure.
To this end, there were opportunities to stand the banner in the corridors and talk to people coming to and from meeting rooms during the breaks and, if possible to speak in the plenaries and in the topic meetings.
So from a choice of seven topics in the programme for the second session of break-out groups, I chose to join 'Building a bigger, more diverse and inclusive movement on climate change' as one of ninety signatories. In the event, my guesstimate of the actual turnout was nearer fifty people from three generations formed in six groups.
Our discussion was to address questions from a broadsheet entitled 'Bring the issue home / Make the invisible visible' distributed by lead speaker member of the National Union of Students, Piers Telemacque.
We were asked to provide suggestions and recommendations as answers to three questions together comprising the first of seven other questions relating to two introductory premises. Those were:
'Social problems are often obscured by distance, ideology or simple chemistry. If you can't see it, you can't change it: The first task of an activists often to make the invisible visible. Many injustices are invisible to the mainstream. When you bring these wrongs into full view, you change the game, making the need to take action palpable.'
'We have been socialised in cultures founded upon multiple, overlapping forms of oppression, often leading us to inadvertently perpetuate dehumanising behaviours, situations and structures. Developing anti-oppresive practices is life-long work.'
Citing the relevance of 'life-long work' in trying to sell our ideas to the Wessex constituency and elsewhere, I related my contribution to the three questions as follows:
1. What are the struggles that we can think of that are similar to the one described and how are we connected to them?
I stated that the efforts expended and difficulties experienced by WRs members over forty years and continuing in our campaign to turn government the right-way-up by way of instituting an autonomous regional assembly for Wessex with powers no less than those enjoyed by Scotland, are precisely similar to those described, and that under the present system we are inextricably connected to them by way of a tangled web of draconian legislation and a fatally flawed finance system which exposes us all to the damage serially orchestrated in turn by the corporations manipulating the establishment parties elected, despite ever diminishing minority support from the British electorate.
Are we connected?
Most certainly the climate change and climate justice campaigns inevitably are connected and ensnared in the tangled web described, as are all campaigns which emanate from anywhere but central diktat - be it in America, Brussels or Westminster.
What is the connection to the environment and to social justice and to the dominant system?
The connections to each are as described above and that is why we realise that at least three essential changes have to be implemented if we are to free ourselves from entrapment by the dominant system responsible for continuing and exacerbating the damage being generated, both by frustrating and preventing the changes now so urgently needed and increasingly being demanded.
The three changes are:
1. Re-structuring government from top-down diktat to bottom-up democracy but unlike in Scotland, including the stricture that members standing to be elected by way of an appropriate system of majority, proportionally representative voting, would be held accountable throughout their terms of office to fulfill the requirements of voters from the parish and county levels of government.
2. Re-structuring the implementation, values and aims of the usury- driven capitalist, debt-based finance and 'real' economy systems, for replacement with a form of positive money recorded as an asset rather than as a debt on the liability column on the Bank of England balance sheets,and that money be redistributed by statute in the form of a living income or citizens' dividend to cover all costs essential for permanent security in housing, food and water for everyone, in amounts variable and adjusted to counter all further vagaries and vicissitudes on account of failures of the system.
3. The third change needed is a radical change in our values and life-style whereby for example less time is allowed to be spent in damaging activities for financial gain, and more time assured for salutary living rather than locked into soul-destroying, counter-productive, environmentally-damaging jobs designed to further enrich the already filthy-rich who continue to manipulate increased assaults toward world destruction.
If you want Green policies in Wessex
Joining the Wessex Regionalists costs just £5 as a 'Supporter'
or £10 as a 'Full Member'. Click on the image above to find out how to join us,
Do you share the same values as the Wessex Regionalists? Click on the image above to take our short survey and find out.