Meeting Notes - October 2020

 Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting -  19 October 2020 by Zoom

Attendees: Shaun R, Beatrice G, Helen F, Richard S, Lindy S (chair), Liddy G, Chris W, Sue T, Manju R.

Apologies: June B, Clare B.

1. Involvement with local MPs  – After introductions, we discussed what positive responses we have had from our MPs recently. Some are more responsive than others; we are still hoping to rearrange a meeting with Gill Furniss (Brightside and Hillsborough). Additional approaches were discussed. Hope for the Future and Greenpeace both have relevant experience and there is always the opportunity to attend surgeries with your own MP. It was suggested we could identify specific issues that would appeal to different MPs’ interests. National FoE have also been targeting MPs and are now moving on to working more with local councils.

2. Video on the topic “What we can learn from the response to Covid-19 and apply to the Climate Crisis” – this video made early in the pandemic makes the case for lessons that can be learnt, despite the difference between the two emergencies. These include links between fossil fuel emissions and the economy and understanding of both how we can reduce travel related air pollution and fossil fuel consumption and how essential a rapid structural transition is associated with support for economic change (e.g. the Green New Deal) with parallels to the economic policies that have supported responses to Covid. The use of behavioural science to understand how to influence behaviour may be an additional lesson from current responses to Covid. Impact of lobbying, and need to identify direct causal links between climate change and events like flooding, the absence of “a vaccine for climate change” is worth highlighting. Discussed a need to increase the pressure for action (and not spend too much time and energy engaging with the minority of climate change deniers). Worth considering how much attitudes and technologies have changed that may put us in a better position to make positive proposals.

3. Future activities – Lot of ideas for future activities and ongoing priorities were discussed. Given current second wave of pandemic and uncertainty when in person activities will be feasible again, we need to focus on online and social media activities. Shaun is actively posting on Facebook (as well as on the website), and Lindy on Twitter, particularly on looking at positive solutions; we are supporting other local environmental groups in South Yorkshire and looking at what Greenpeace and others are doing. We discussed organising and hosting an online event – for example looking at specific ways to reduce our own carbon footprint as an event in Spring 2020. Support is available from national FoE. It could be used to boost our profile.  Could look also for opportunities to go out to other non-environmental business, community or religious groups to ensure we are not just “preaching to the converted”.  These two approaches would be complementary in terms of raising our profile and engaging different audiences. Richard and Lindy are involved in organising the schools conference and continuing to work with schools and children more widely. Ongoing lottery funded work with the Sheffield Climate Alliance is also going to be a priority now activity is starting to get underway. Online events coming up include one with the Metro mayors. 

4. AOB  - On the Clean air campaign, Lindy has been following this up with Mark Jones to get a response to previous prompts; Helen has recently been made a trustee with the Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust. And Sheffield FoE may be allocated some of the SCA grant which could be put towards priorities including supporting the schools conference.

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