Our friends from 350.org have written a blog about the impact of Hope for the Future’s training on their Divest Parliament campaign. Tytus Murphy, one of the campaign’s organisers, writes below…
Hope for the Future's Chair of Trustees, Glyn Turton, reflects on the first five years of the organisation and looks forward to the next five.
July was a good month for Hope for the Future – one in which we paused to look back and to look forward. At a development day on the 10th, we thought long and hard about our future, and three days later, we were joined by our many friends and supporters at a fifth birthday party to celebrate the successes of our past.
Five years ago, a small group of friends who attended the same church, decided that something must be done about climate change – and that that something must be influencing politicians to take action. From this initial conviction came the idea of helping others to challenge our elected representatives on what is surely the most urgent problem facing the world. After four years of hard, voluntary work, testing out our ideas on how that might be done, we finally became a registered charity in the summer of 2017. Since then, our small team of paid staff and our much larger group of volunteers have become recognised as leaders in the field of training citizens to petition their MPs and councillors about the dangers of global warming.
But how do we sustain and expand our activity? To that question we turned our minds on July 10th. With the invaluable help of our facilitator, Nick Nuttgens of the University of Sheffield, staff and trustees examined every aspect of our current activity, reaffirmed our commitment to action on the climate, and looked at ways in which we might secure additional funding. In doing this, we were under no illusions as to the challenges that lie ahead; these are difficult times for all charities. But what gives us our strength is the certainty that we have found a winning formula that brings benefits for all those with whom we engage: for the groups of citizens, in whom we build capacity and confidence; for our many volunteer workers who gain experience and insight; and for the MPs and councillors who come to appreciate the concerns of their constituents and the importance of responding to those concerns.
As we worked through the issues that arose on our development day, one thing assumed particular prominence: our reliance on those who support us, and the need to increase their number. Our birthday celebrations on the 13th July gave us a splendid opportunity to gather together those who are already our friends and to thank them for all they have done for us. But it also allowed us to showcase our work in a splendid exhibition and to put out an appeal for the support, both moral and material, that will enable us to consolidate and then to grow. The appreciation, the congratulations and the plaudits we received on that memorable evening gave us all a tremendous boost and inspired us to work hard for a cause in which we passionately believe.
In May, I met with my MP Tommy Sheppard at one of his surgeries to discuss climate change with him. It was great to meet Tommy in person and know that my elected representative is a real person, who is working hard to represent our constituency.
With Community Energy Fortnight approaching, why not choose community energy as one specific issue to approach your MP about? Community energy involves small-scale renewable energy projects, where citizens come together, take control and reap benefits from their energy. The many benefits of community energy can make it easier to find common ground with your MP over an area of shared interest. For example, if your MP’s main concern is lowering energy prices for their constituents, you can highlight how community energy can help with this.
In April 2018, Claire Perry MP, the Minister for Clean Growth and Energy announced that the government will call on the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to lay out a route for tighter carbon controls, in a move towards a net zero emissions target. Net zero refers to the balancing of emissions produced and emissions sequestered or offset, so that overall zero emissions are emitted. A zero emissions target would be a positive step towards meeting the 1.5 degree target, as well as showing ambition from the government.
Jo and I ran a workshop for a group of schoolgirls on a residential trip at Whirlow Hall Farm with the Sheffield Environmental Movement. The Sheffield Environmental Movement is a charity that aims to promote health and well-being by working to provide Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & Refugee (BAMER) communities in Sheffield access to the natural environment. This was my first opportunity to run a workshop so it was really exciting, but also slightly nerve wracking sitting in silence with a group of 11-14 year olds before we got started.
Talking about the Government’s recent move on single use plastics Mr Jenkin remarked that ‘the establishment is playing catch up’ with public concern for greater environmental protection, listing as an example the range of eco-friendly lifestyle choices he has made over the years. The issue of climate change specifically, however, is one that has evolved for Mr Jenkin, not least due to the work of one of his constituents, Jill of the Women’s Institute.
How can we achieve the energy generation we need from renewables whilst protecting our treasured natural environment? What risks does the Government need to take to achieve our emission reduction targets and how far are they willing to go? Is our current political response to the danger of climate change encouraging or is there still a lot to do?