Meeting Notes: March 2023

 Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting -  20th March 2023 by Zoom

Attendees: Lindy (chair), Liddy G (notes), Sean, Greg, Julian, Claire      Apologies: Richard S, Shaun R, Nick J


Matters arising from recent meetings

  • ·       Climate petition re Sheffield lack of action – submitted to full council in February and politely received though commitment to action remains disappointing.
  • ·       Schools Climate Education South Yorkshire ran a very successful and well attended in-person conference on March 2nd, well supported by local politicians (including Paul Blomfield and the new Labour candidate for Sheffield Central; South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard)  
  • ·       Using funds donated by Waitrose, we have purchased a FLIR One Edge Pro thermal imaging camera. So far we have tried it out in 6 homes and are still learning how best to use it.  The imaging serves as an excellent starter in conversations about insulation and energy saving and will be helpful in developing interest in the United for Warm Homes campaign.

Update on supporter numbers - Database stands at 521 (same as January) Twitter 923 (+22)  Facebook 692 (+4). Claire suggested we could use a short survey or email to ask people why they did not join the on line meetings, to see if it helped identify how we could increase attendance.

FoE Charter: We have recently been required (in line with all groups) to renew our charter and agreement with national FoE.  This is because the separate agreements for local groups network and the Climate Action networks have been merged. As coordinator, Lindy has done this on our behalf.

Clean Air Zone media inputs: As coordinator of Sheffield FoE, Lindy spoke to BBC Look North, did a 10 minute interview with BBC Radio Sheffield’s Toby Foster and write an opinion piece in the Sheffield Telegraph welcoming the first moves by Sheffield City Council to tackle the problems of air pollution in the city – while pointing out that much more needs to be done, in particular improved public transport and better active travel routes.

The Big One: Friends of the Earth are taking part in the XR led peaceful/non disruptive protest in London in April.  FoE will focus on Friday April 21st and possibly Saturday 22nd – more details on this will follow.  SYCA are joining with XR Sheffield for a ‘South Yorkshire Goes to London’ event with a coach going down on Friday 21st when they are likely to plan to demonstrate outside the Dept of Transport regarding public transport.

United for Warm Homes campaign

a)       National team contacted us to see if we could support them with a renewed push on the campaign at the end of March with some filming with Lindy in Sheffield to promote it.  The initial plans were cancelled but might be re-organised.

b)      Petition – we have set up a South Yorkshire version of a national FoE/United for Warm Homes petition aimed at MPs which will be presented to them later in the year.  All 14 South Yorkshire MPs are named on our petition.  Signers must provide their post code and FoE will be able to use these to send to the relevant MPs.

MP meetings: we have met, individually or as part of wider alliances, with Louise Haigh, Paul Blomfield, Olivia Blake. Clive Betts and Gill Furniss over the past three years. Next steps to discuss may include a meeting with Miriam Cates (Lindy will invite her);  we should consider asking for meetings with each of our other local MPs on the United for Warm Homes campaign elements.

National FoE campaigns: these are many and varied and Lindy drew attention to the range of petitions in the March newsletter. National FoE’s international team have also told us that they have approached Olivia Blake to champion the Planet Before Profit campaign.

FoE State of the Environment reports: As an extension of the ‘Near Me’ tool which gave LA level data on a number of climate and environmental issues, FoE are now planning to develop a constituency-based analysis for local groups to have more meaningful discussions with MPs.

Next Meeting:  Monday April 17th 7:30pm  AGM

Presentation and discussion at 8pm

Energy: What’s all the fuss about? Presentation by Mike Childs, head of Science, Policy & Research Friends of the Earth

An additional 16 people joined the meeting for Mike’s talk: Jim B, Joan M , Duncan F, Graham M, Jennie C,  Chris B, Chris W, Dave A, Geoff C, Hilary S, Jane M, Lynn C, Rhys E, Sue C, Shelagh W, Becky F.

Mike spoke about some of the major issues in relation to address the climate crisis, covering transport (electric and hydrogen options), industrial decarbonisation and domestic heating options. He also focused on practical solutions such as heat pumps, where he could speak from personal experience and he highlighted recent innovations such as higher temperature heat pumps. He highlighted the need for renewable energy solutions to generate electricity and for generating and using hydrogen for energy storage during times of higher electricity generation. In principle fossil fuels can be used to generate hydrogen but there is still some carbon and methane generation so we still need to focus on renewable energy generation. He spoke on the need for both global and local actions.

The talk generated a number of questions and discussion points including the need for both energy saving and more generation of renewable and sustainable energy; potential for tidal power and other more consistent and reliable renewable sources; the value of local community energy schemes; practicalities of installing heat pumps; potential shortage of rare minerals as raw materials for battery production; longer term prospects for a Local Energy Bill; how to motivate people to act urgently if they are expecting a technological solution to the climate crisis. Mike summed up the need to continue to campaign and advocate for change and not rely on politicians or technology alone to avert the climate crisis, reflecting that in the past, a change in government and political promises did not lead to change without a major campaigning effort.