The world’s climate is still under going major changes due to human activity particularly the burning and use of non-renewable energy. The Kyoto Climate Treaty, which was the international community’s response, has yet to be legalised due to the USA and Russia’s refusal to ratify it.
However there are a number of significant events in the next couple of years, according to Bryony Worthington, FoE’s Climate Change Campaigner particularly the Presidential elections in the US and Russia. Also Tony Blair has declared that climate change and Africa to be his priorities for his presidency of both the European Union and the G8, (the eight most important countries in the world) in 2005.
Friends of the Earth wants to raise the profile of climate change and get higher public awareness of the issue and have asked all their local groups to sign up to the Climate Challenge. They have suggested various campaign ideas:
· Sign people to a Green Electricity supplier
· Persuade the local authority to ensure all new planning applications include renewable energy
· Support a proposed renewable energy project through the planning procedure for example a new wind farm
· Get a local renewable project started
· Ask local garages to stock bio-diesel
· Get people to install their own renewable energy at home like solar panels
· Influence local authorities spending for example switch to green electricity or running their vehicle on bio-diesel
· Persuade a local company to invest in renewable energy
· Set up an emission saving challenge bet with a local politician or celebrity
· Set up your own emission trading scheme
A training day was held in Birmingham so we could find out more about the Carbon Challenge. There were two speakers. We were inspired by Jill Perry, a local FoE activist in Cumbria who described her struggle to successfully (in most cases) supporting planning applications for wind farms in her area. Manuel Pardo talked about his work with the East Midlands Community Renewable Initiative.
Changing minds and getting people to alter their habits is hard. There is often a lot of resistance to siting large wind turbines in Lake District and other Cumbrian beauty spots. Also, in general, there is awareness amongst the public of the issues but many feel confused, powerless to act or just cannot be bothered but it takes persistence or working towards common goals to break these barriers. However it is possible to change this view and get positive results if you are persistent, work in partnership with local people and show them the benefits from the new sources of energy. The Climate Challenge will show them that they can do something locally, or in their home, or to their life that will make a difference.
Sheffield FoE is part of the Carbon Challenge. We want to encourage local people to sign up to a Green Electricity supplier and write to local petrol stations and ask for them to sell bio-diesel. I intend to add a number of renewable energy features to our house when our extension is built including solar panels and wind turbines.
Other action that Sheffield FoE could take include writing to Sheffield City Council and other South Yorkshire authorities about the current debate about adding wind farms to the rural areas of the county. We can then take an active role pushing for these developments.