Europe, Energy and the Environment (& our Party Elections!)
I think I have mentioned, recently, my status as an English Rugby fan and the crisis of conscience that caused me to sell back my hard-won tickets for the matches in Japan to avoid over-burdening my Carbon footprint ( read my last blog post for details – Pushing the Green Liberal Imperative – at https://keithmelton10.wordpress.com/ )
Fatima and I are going to have to catch a train from Newark which may entail leaving home before the final whistle has blown. The alternative may be to leave home during half-time and watch the second half streamed on my phone, but that may risk me not having a good connection, thereby having to wait for the recorded version later in the day. But if that happens, I know there is no way I shall get home without hearing the result first – I hate that!
This potentially troubling scenario, however, has made me reflect on the way the world has changed since the first referendum on Europe back in 1975. I was a spokesperson for the European Movement back then, full of optimism about the role a newly united Europe could play (and, indeed HAS played) in bringing peace and great economic benefits to our peoples, following the devastating war that was over before I was born.
An avid reader of science fiction in my youth, I was still optimistic about the possibilities of nuclear fusion as a clean source of energy, although I had already decided nuclear fission was not to be trusted. And economic wind energy was not yet in sight, nor was solar energy a realistic possibility, apart from passive solar heating of water on the roof (possible but still expensive!)
Nearly 50 years later
And yet, here we are nearly 50 years later, reading headlines about renewable power overtaking fossil fuel power as the primary energy source for the UK in the last twelve months. Not as much as it might have because successive Tory Governments, left to their own devices after the Coalition, have backtracked on renewable energy generation, as they have on so many other things where we Liberal Democrats had pushed for rapid advances. Nevertheless, progress of a sort!
The last three years and more of bickering about Brexit has prevented any real debate on issues that, at the end of the day, will have more impact upon our existence than our involvement or otherwise in the European Union. We should be pushing hard for MORE renewable energy provision and talking with our European neighbours and colleagues about collaborating much more closely on getting rid of fossil fuels altogether.
This is what the march on the 19th October is all about for me. Let us, for goodness` sake, kill Brexit off once and for all and get on with saving the world. For there is no Planet “B”!!
Our European holiday – a fresh view of Public Transport
Some of you, at least, may have seen photographs on FaceBook from our very recent three-week holiday – our (not-so) Grand Tour of Europe. The weather has been a bit mixed and it can get a wee bit cold at three in the morning in a caravan, but we have seen a fair bit of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland as well as motorway dashes through parts of France.
As keen readers of my blog may recall, I first became involved in environmental issues way back in 1971 as a returning Master`s Degree student at UMIST. It was entirely serendipitous (for the full story see my post from way-back…. https://keithmelton10.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/update-keith-a-green-liberal-democrat/ ) but the essence was that I became persuaded of the case for better and cheaper public transport – a belief I have cherished ever since.
Indeed, I was struck by the better state of public transport in many of the places we visited – none more so than the centre of Freiburg in Germany. It was a delightful place, the centre of which was pedestrianised apart from the many trams available for moving around. I just felt “at home” there as we walked around at leisure. The picture here shows the tramlines in a quiet city-centre street with a tram in the distance…
A little earlier in Luxembourg we had remarked on the plethora of buses there (indeed, I added a quick pic of one to my last blog – but since they were so colourful I thought you might not mind seeing another bendy bus in this post!) And they were also very inexpensive to ride on – so they were mostly either electric or, at least, hybrid, comfortable, large and colourful. Also, when we were in Luxembourg it was a Friday, so we were treated to a Climate Strike demonstration on the bridge, too, as you may have seen on my FaceBook post. So, although it was a holiday, I kept getting reminders of my political life, too.
There is no doubt that for very many reasons we will be much better off remaining in the European Union (there is no Brexit Deal that can match the current deal we have as members of the EU) but the motivation for me to march on 19th October is almost all related to the need to tackle the overwhelming environmental threats of Climate Change and biodiversity loss, in partnership with our fellow members of the EU. It has been very clear from the hints and indications that we see in the media, that the current horrendous, so-called, Government is set on stripping away many of the great environmental protections the EU has put in place over the last 40 plus years.
Liberal Democrats are the distinctive REMAIN party, but one of the key reasons we are is that we have `care for the Environment` set in our DNA. As I have said elsewhere, I regard it as one my life`s most significant moments that I managed to get the following sentence embedded in the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution back in 1988. The fact that it is still there and still relevant is a considerable source of pride and the underlying reason I am putting myself forward for the Federal Policy Committee and/or the Federal Conference Committee in this year`s Party elections.
“We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long-term continuity of life in all its forms.”
I know our current Chair of the Green Lib Dems, Graham Neale, feels similarly motivated, and he has his name in the hat for Federal Board and/or Federal Policy Committee. Between us then, we would greatly appreciate your consideration of first and second preferences for these elections if you are eligible to vote therein…
So, if you are Green at heart and want the Party to put environmental issues front and centre in our General Election Manifesto…
please VOTE FIRST PREFERENCE for Graham Neale for Federal Board
please VOTE FIRST PREFERENCE for Keith Melton for Federal Conference Committee and
please VOTE FIRST and SECOND PREFERENCEs for Keith and Graham for Federal Policy Committee (whichever way round you choose!)