Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting - 18th October 2021 by Zoom
Attendees: Lindy S (chair), Del P, Duncan F, Liddy G, Sarah S, Richard S, , Shaun R, Izzy P, Beatrice G, Aisha R, Bill F, Carolyn L. Beverley B.
Apologies: Helen F, Claire B
COP 26 – What’s it all about?: After introductions and welcoming new members, Simon Bowens, Regional Coordinator, Friends of the Earth spoke to the group about the background including the international politics, the preparations and current plans for COP 26.
He emphasised that current proposed targets (for UK and for COP) are entirely inadequate to achieve limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees (closer to 2.4!). He made it clear that the two week meeting in Glasgow is only the start of the process of influencing change, but is a great opportunity for impact through media coverage and influencing the UK government. There are some specific current government plans FoE is campaigning against, including new coal mining, new oil drilling, a gas megaproject in Mozambique and Cambo oil field in Shetlands.
FoE have provided resources for local campaigning and various Sheffield events already planned.
We asked about divestment and pensions campaigning and Simon highlighted the link to government policies which would make fossil fuel investments look less attractive to pension schemes and other investors. We also asked about the scope of the negotiations within the meeting and specific policy issues such as transport policy. Simon suggested these are areas where we need to campaign and see change nationally and that there was potentially some impetus of this. There will be a “Transport Day” during COP during which policies including aviation fuel should be discussed.
Simon talked about what would be needed for UK to reach “net zero” and where investment was needed, for example in insulation/heating for homes and where it might be inappropriate (eg some biomass and hydrogen generation schemes). International action on other specific areas are the focus of other environmental groups eg Greenpeace campaigning on protecting seabed and marine environment
Simon recommended “Carbon Brief”: https://www.carbonbrief.org/daily-brief/
Some other useful links to information and the COP programme were shared in the Chat:
Local COP26 Campaigning:Sheffield events
a) Banner Drop is planned for Monday Nov 1; Richard, Del, Bill and Aisha potentially available to help and Simon suggested morning best
b) March & Rally on Saturday Nov 6th Global Day of Action for Climate Justice – Meet from 12 noon at Devonshire Green, leaving 1pm leading to rally outside the City Hall. The FoE group will have plenty of posters and a banner and so people will be needed to support and carry banner/placards.
c) A Sheffield FoE ‘stunt’ has been proposed and discussed by Sarah, Duncan, Helen and Lindy. This would use the “on fire” theme with local landmarks and characters; an inflatable globe could also be used as a visual way to get message across. Simon shared social media tips - we can share press release and photos with local press and use ourselves https://takeclimateaction.uk/resources/beginners-guide-social-media. We need to work on this with other groups to have a significant impact; for Twitter can tag national FoE account, national FoE media team will be working over the 6th November weekend. There will be a further planning meeting on 24 Oct in city centre. Other media outlets were discussed including local radio and local press; Local media including Sheffield Telegraph and social media are covering COP preparations.
d) also student media at both Sheffield universities (Lindy/Bill/Izzy to follow up) ; Beverley suggested using her Open University contacts
Updates from September meeting:
• Pinstone Street - Decision delayed
• Peace and Craft Fair in the Town Hall cancelled
• Engaging with the public training: Helpful session at SCA meeting attended by Duncan & Lindy
• Numbers of supporters – Pleasing increase in numbers linked to petition & campaigning events since last meeting Database 464 (+80) , followers on Facebook 650 (+12) & Twitter 721 (+42)
• Funding : Lindy and Liddy put an application for £250 in to FoE Local Groups fund to support campaigning, particularly (though not exclusively) around COP. This was granted, plus another £50 for supporting tree planting initiative.
• Petition – calling on local horticultural retailers to stop selling peat-based compost. 249 people have signed online plus 97 from two campaign days. Lindy to merge the two into one spreadsheet. We will need now to decide on next steps for delivering the petition to local retailers and to local media.
• Great Big Green Week Campaign Stalls:
a) 18th Sept: Castlegate: Successful day with focus on the peat petition and the importance of protecting peatlands as a biodiverse habitat and a carbon store. Engagement with about 150 people. Lots of support from general public and positive ‘vibe to the event. Eight of us staffed the stall during the day. Fuller report and photos on Sheffield FoE website.
b) 25th Sept: Fargate, Another good day. Focus was on upcoming COP and the need for urgent action. Messages collected for global leaders. Lots of very positive and serious engagement from public. All SCA partners reported an uptick in people’s knowledge and engagement. Another 100+ people spoken to. Four FoE supporters staffed the stall Fuller report and photos on Sheffield FoE website.
• Meetings/engagement with local MPs: Louise Haigh (Heeley MP) held an event covering environmental issues that Lindy, Duncan and Richard all attended. Other MPs are also providing opportunities to engage: Olivia Blake (Hallam) and Paul Blomfield entral) have also been active in organising engagement events on environmental issues. Clive Betts (South East) has a specific interest in public transport and Gill Furniss (Brightside and Hillsborough) is sympathetic but less proactive.
• Recent media engagement: Sky News Live ‘Big Ideas’ climate panel: Lindy reported on her last minute replacement (for Magid Magid) at this event at the Magna Centre on 12th October. She was able to articulate the concerns of campaigners in general and FoE in particular as part of the discussion & generated additional Twitter & Facebook followers.
• SCA Campaigns group meeting Tuesday 19th 7pm. Douglas Johnson, Climate change lead with Sheffield City Council is speaking about progress on Pathways to Zero report and taking questions. Aisha able to attend for the group and feedback.
Next Local Group Meeting – Monday November 15th on Zoom; agenda will include feedback from COP activities and plans for following up peat petition.