BCCF AGM Summary. Many thanks to those who came last week.

Please scroll down to have a quick read of our Co-Chair’s report which sums up the 18 months since the previous AGM. We’re really pleased to welcome to two new committee members with professional and personal expertise in transport, agriculture/horticulture and zero waste. We’d also like to share the Youtube presentation from Professor Will Steffen which we agreed useful as an up-to-date and accessible ‘beginners guide’ to the climate crisis with a timely Australian perspective. It makes useful links with addressing the pandemic, with social equity and with the wider ecological crisis. Highly recommended. (In our view you can skip the final 20 minutes recorded Q&A, so just 40 minutes of your time)

Co-chairs’ Report 2020:

From Heather Mitchell:

Our report covers the period from May 2019 to October 2020, totalling 18 months including 7 months under Covid 19 restricted conditions.  The first 11 months offered a series of well-attended monthly events held at University of Bedfordshire, Polhill Avenue:   

In June 2019 Volker Patent gave a stimulating talk on The Psychology of Climate Change with lively discussion. In July Bedford Borough Council’s Deputy Mayor Charles Royden and chief officer for Environment, Paul Pace, spoke on the council’s Climate Emergency Declaration.  This was followed in September by input on Carbon Fee and Dividend, with Ted Halstead‘s TED talk.   In October we heard about the Green New Deal presented by Socialist and committee member John Huckle and Richard Baker of the Green Party. In November we watched the film Anote’s Ark aboutthe small Pacific island nation Kiribati which will disappear under water as sea level rises. More cheerfully December’s meeting had a seasonal theme of trees with short films, a quiz and a talk by Craig Lymm on Great Denham Country Park.

January 2020 had a talk by Jane Varley with Simon Hall on the Green Business Network opening our eyes to what a variety of firms in our area are doing to further sustainable practices. February saw a presentation by passionate proponents of PermaCulture, Ben Yeomans and Will Rawes of the Neno Macademia Trust in Malawi, where smallholder communities are increasing their food security while regenerating the soil. Then in March a presentation by Peter Blakeman, long-standing chair and hero of the Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire, explained and answered questions on the hard task of making Bedford a town fit for cyclists. This work continues.

BCCF was also giving talks (U3A, Cranfield University Green Week, Mark Rutherford Upper School), including a presentation about Carbon Fee & Dividend by David at Cranfield Green Week. Also we were supporting local Extinction Rebellion, School Strikers, and Parents for Future, and having stalls at Bedford Green week, Taste Bedford, Refugee Week and the Retired Caribbean Nurses Association event.

 Before handing over to Lucy, I want to give huge thanks to her for her tireless communications, facilitation and activism on our behalf. And thanks to committee members for their brilliant ideas and hard work. Particular thanks to John Huckle who has now stood down.  John has made extremely valuable expert contributions to our thinking and to events that we have run.  It’s been a long year and climate change encompasses ever more aspects of our lives. The work goes on.

From Lucy Bywater:

A significant and sometimes demanding development has been relationships with the councils (Bedford Borough, Luton Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Kempston Town council), as they work to fulfil their Climate Emergency Declarations. Friends of the Earth and the Centre for Alternative Technology have supported with their research and guidance documents for local authorities. The Climate Coalition, a national umbrella organisation, has organised lobbying of MPs.  National and international bodies like Committee on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN and regular COPs have provide important research and direction for governments.

Since April 2020 and Covid -19, our regular committee meetings have been on Zoom, thanks to Colin for setting up and hosting. Also our BCCF contacts have been invited to several public zoom meetings. A very informative presentation by Chris Goodall, his recent book “What We Need to Do Now”, drew an audience and debate with around 50 participants in May. His weekly Carbon Commentary email newsletter with latest developments in carbon reduction around the world is well worth reading.

In July we proposed a ‘summer season’ of 3 films for people to watch in their own time and join a zoom discussion over 3 evenings. Al Gore’s TED talk The Case for Optimism on Climate Change, Out of the Smog- a Plea from Pakistan, and A Vision of the World in 2040 with the 2040 film’s director Damon Gameau. The facilitated discussions were very good, though the numbers present were low. Similarly in September we proposed the BBC films Powering Britain about power generation through wind, gas, biomass and nuclear, with an excellent discussion, learning a lot from each other.

For the year ahead, we anticipate continuing with online meetings and events (which means no travel issues at least!) We have a sub-committee looking into a potentially substantial event or series of smaller events around food, with the provisional title ‘Can Bedfordshire Feed itself?’ comprising several themes from regenerative agriculture to allotments and Brexit. We’d like to increase links with local colleges and universities and an early heads up that – we may soon have a speaker from Cranfield on new initiatives in transport. News on that later.

We’re looking for some new committee members, with an interest in transport, energy, agriculture and housing to support subgroups in those areas. Please get in touch if you are interested. It’s possible to sit in as an observer at meetings to see how we work. However great your time commitment would be, you’d be helping us to continue to work in important ways against the climate and ecological crisis in our county and beyond.

Thanks from Lucy, to Heather especially for her commitment and focus, her networking, outreach and her organisational skills as Co-Chair for over 6 years. She’s been so positive to work with on numerous events. One particular highlight was her outstanding organisation of an EV event at the university two years ago, which included council transport officer and several EV owners and their vehicles, as well as an electric bike. We’re so glad she’s staying on our committee despite relinquishing the Co-Chair role.

We note the context going forward – growing global awareness of but greatly increasing urgency of climate AND ecological emergency. And set against potential severe challenges to budgets especially local authorities which may increase the potential difficulty of really meeting some of these challenges.

Extras:

  1. Please contribute to the consultation Planning for the Future White Paper. The deadline is the end of this month.
  2. Contribution to crowdjustice incinerator campaign. Georgia Elliot-Smith, the environmental engineer from Enfield, London who has taken on a judicial review aiming to change government policy and finally recognise once and for all that incinerators are responsible for vast amounts of toxic pollution. In 2019, the UK had 48 incinerators that poured 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – and didn’t pay a single penny for it. That’s the same as all the emissions from Birmingham and Manchester put together. As I’m sure you are aware, a further 17 incinerators are under construction and dozens more are seeking planning permission. If successful, the judicial review will mean every single incinerator (current or planned) will have to pay for the pollution they produce and therefore discourage their further proliferation.  Please share the link below far and wide, to anyone who is interested and might consider donating.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/make-incineration-polluters-pay/

More info about the Edmonton challenge can be found here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/31/edmonton-incinerator-expansion-fundamentally-unjust-say-residents

I’ve organised this on behalf of the local Green Party but it’s not party political, everyone is welcome. You need to register in advance to get the zoom link. (There’s no charge but a fiver suggested donation for those that are able and feel inclined)

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