The Labour ‘Roots’ event in Hastings at the weekend was attended by over 500 people. It featured speeches by party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott. In his speech, the Labour leader reiterated the party’s position on Brexit: a deal with Brussels within three months of coming to power and a referendum within six months, with remain as an option.
The Green Industrial Revolution workshop session was addressed by a schools climate striker, Rose, 11, from Brighton. And at the other end of the age range was 91-year-old John Lynes, an Extinction Rebellion activist from Hastings who was arrested during the recent protests in London. The other speakers were Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner and Maya Evans, Hastings Borough Council’s lead member on climate change.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade has what he calls his ‘special pollinator shirt’ which he revealed to a cheering crowd when he spoke in Hastings on Saturday.
Barry Gardiner’s theme was climate change and when a member of his audience summed up the climate crisis by saying: “No bees, no us,” Mr Gardiner revealed his shirt; a riot of colour festooned with bees and flowers.
He said: “We tend to pigeonhole climate change as an energy, or energy efficiency matter; it’s about our power sector. No, it’s about absolutely everything. It’s about the absolute integration about what sustains our life on this planet.”
As a child, washing the family car, he said it was noticeable how many insects were squashed on the bonnet. Not any more. And going further back in the records, Britain had many more insects and birds than it does today.
“What we’ve done is dramatically change the shape of our world so that if people from just two or three generations ago came back today they would say ‘where are all the birds … where are all insects, where are the all the animals?’ Yes we must talk technical, but don’t ever forget this is connected up.”
Climate change was also about justice, he said. It’s the poor who suffer, and will suffer, its effects. And on those to come: our grandchildren and their children. Children in primary schools were already affected: the lung capacity of those within 100 metres of a main road up to a third smaller than children elsewhere.
Hastings councillor Maya Evans spoke to Hastings In Focus recently about the Green Industrial Revolution listen to her interview by clicking the link above.
But despair wasn’t the answer. Just like the original industrial revolution, a new clean, green technology was on its way. It was going to power the economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution, however, would not leave the poorest people behind, or those workers who work in the oil and gas industry: “We will make sure there is a transition of skills, jobs and economic prosperity,” said Mr Gardiner.
“Let’s create that inspiring vision for the future,” he concluded.
In the workshop session that followed, groups discussed a wide range of ways that communities could tackle climate change, from gardening schemes to better recycling.
Much of it was echoed in Labour’s Green Revolution. The party has already said it will ensure that 60 per cent of the UK’s energy comes from low-carbon or renewable sources within 12 years of coming to power. Doing this by investing in projects to support the creation of a thriving renewables industry with good, long-term jobs. With £2.3 billion per year to support insulating homes, with a zero-carbon standard for new homes.
Other policies include promoting car sharing – 30,000 electric cars for community car-sharing clubs, backed by a nationally-owned electric charging network.
Labour, said Mr Gardiner, would also make landowners responsible for creating safe habitats for birds and wild animals and encourage the growth of wildflowers.
Which brought him back to those bees on his shirt: “It’s the little things that add up that matter,” he said