Discussions on The Watford Way forwards for Climate Justice – our Shared Lunch on 15th November by Irena Pearse, John Quill, Sarah Hagger-Holt
Even though we are locked down, we were not locked out of diverse and stimulating discussions thanks to Friends and our Zoom speakers – Anna Addison from Watford Climate Action (affiliated with Friends of the Earth) and Vanessa Barker from Extinction Rebellion – who joined the Shared Lunch on Sunday 15th November.
We started with a quick overview of local activities and ended with discussions on ideas for action.
Presentations from local speakers
Vanessa from XR shared the different activities Watford’s branch took part in, before Covid times, which ranged from litter picking to protest events such as ‘The Horrors of Climate Change’ which ended with a ‘die in’ at Welwyn Garden City. Vanessa’s statement on ‘direct action’ was thought provoking – the fact that all major social change in recent history has been achieved through peaceful protest and the bravery of those individuals made me pause for thought…. Is it our turn now?
Anna introduced ways of being involved in local awareness raising activities and invited us all to link up our ideas and actions to make a bigger impact locally. Watford Climate Action reaches out to Three Rivers also. One of the comments from a WCA participant rang in my head: ‘It’s good to get involved with something that’s positive and constructive, rather than falling into the trap of thinking there’s nothing you can do’.
Discussions and Ideas for Action Within the Shared Lunch, we wanted to give plenty of time to share ideas that might help inspire us to action and give some focus to the many areas to tackle, and we reached a few key ideas by the end of the session through information sharing and break out group discussions.
From the five groups, there was a common theme of seeing an imperative need to lobby government and ensure big business continues to change in the way needed, and this can only be done through legislation and the Media keeping this issue on the agenda. There were some discussions on the best ways to do this and which issues, and Anna said this is something Watford Climate Action and their links with advocacy training can help individuals with. But there seemed agreement that letter writing, joining campaigns, taking part in local outreach and awareness raising would help.
Another group stressed the need to gain better knowledge about environmental issues to raise confidence in expressing a case and persuading others. There was also a discussion in a different group about the importance of accessibility, and that not all actions are accessible to everyone (e.g. It is harder to use public transport if on a lower income or with disability, etc.) Therefore it is important to lobby for government support for accessible as well as eco-friendly changes.
Although it was certainly agreed there are individual actions we can do and that we should also share good practice, ultimately, we came back to a consensus that the most impact on climate change (and climate justice) would be via government. This would force consumer change on us all.
Finally, COP26 is being hosted in Britain next November, and this was discussed to be an ideal opportunity to hold government to its pledges on Carbon Neutral (or was it ‘Net Zero’ – we did discuss the difference, but it seemed confusing = I must do my research ;-)
Advices and Queries and final reflections Sarah’s closing slide from Advices and Queries was a chance to reflect on all these ideas and for me, it was a moment of space to begin to consider all this. Sometimes it feels I am not doing enough, on the other hand I feel overwhelmed with choices.
Next steps Our little Quaker Climate Justice Group meet on Zoom about once a month or so to plan next steps and share ideas for actions. We are John (who is sadly leaving town), Sarah, Emily, Oliver and myself. Please do contact Sarah on firstname.lastname@example.org to share ideas and get involved on any level, you might have an idea for the newsletter J. You don’t need to commit to a group. We would love more people with more ideas on how to be true Friends of our earth.