Our CLP annual conference on the Climate Emergency held in Tring saw a record-breaking turnout for South West Herts Labour with over one hundred people attending, including other CLPs, environmental groups and the public. Vice Chair Rob Wakely introduced keynote speakers including Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, Shadow Minister for International Climate Change, who highlighted how critical the crisis is and that actions are required now. He told us Labour is ready to work with all political parties to ensure the success of the upcoming UN Global climate conference (COP 26) hosted this year by the UK in Glasgow. COP 26 will decide on National level targets across the world and Labour will hold the government to account on meeting these targets.
Ann Pettifor, economist, spoke next to describe the Green New Deal that she helped develop. The Green New Deal has been adopted by Labour and in the US by leading Democrat politicians: low rate government backed bonds could be used to fund the deployment of renewable energy in the UK under the guarantee that UK citizens will always require power and pay for it. Investment funds raised would be directed to increase skilled labour and reduce energy bills.
After a break for luscious vegan cakes and tea and a general buzz around the local actions that can be taken, the second session of local speakers began. SW Herts Labour member Bex Plenderleith from Extinction Rebellion described her personal discovery of the Climate Crisis facts and how immediate action was now required. It is clear that current policy is simply not anywhere near strong enough to address the severity of the crisis. She spoke about how she found support and encouragement from Extinction Rebellion volunteers in campaigning for the government to sit up and take notice. Chris from The Royston Repair Cafe project explained how he had set up a thriving local voluntary group which provides drop-in access to repair advice and skills. Every broken item repaired avoids a bit of landfill! All repair challenges are welcome providing you can carry it into the shed. Next, Steve Ritchie, a local Hydro Power Engineer, described how Renewable Energy is already proven to be the cheapest form of energy production in the form of on-shore wind and how off-shore wind and solar power are cheaper than nuclear and fossil fuel alternatives. Smart grids and energy storage will be essential to support this development and their technology is mature and ready to go. The conference finished on a high with passionate talks from three Ashlyns School students representing SW Herts youth climate strikers who challenged us on the moral duty to care for the environment of future generations and support them in their campaigning.
Huge thanks are due to the organising team and all the many volunteers who made the event such a success. Tring Baptist Church provided an excellent state of the art conference venue.