Over the past year or so, I have met with a number of the leading lights in the UK grassroots climate movement. We’re all part of it, we just don’t always know that we are or realise that there is a movement at all. The Power Shift UK is aimed at bringing us all together, as part of wider strategies from other UK and international climate change organisations.
I see the movement as providing so much that it is hard not to agree that it is a hugely positive influence on life in the UK. Thousands of groups and people around the country are working in their own way to bring community back into their neighbourhoods, where at the moment we are getting used to an insulated lifestyle that revolves around a digital display. They are finding ways to generate electricity from the sources of energy provided to us by nature. They are finding ways to reduce our outgoings so we can have a better standard of living. They are preserving their local natural habitats from an increasing human population and its consequent demands on our natural world.
I am not alone in finding the work a huge drain on my time and energy, as I spend countless evening and days away from the family in meetings. It can and does feel depressing and feed exhaustion in the face of seemingly overwhelming apathy, wilful ignorance and destructive behaviour from what seems like the majority. The political class follow what they feel is the vote-winning majority view, and fail to see the opportunities of a change in direction or the dire consequences of our current path.
That is why I am part of Power Shift UK (3/4 May – book your place now, it’s free, and we might even pay to get you there) which is working with the Campaign against Climate Change (CCC) to unite the UK climate movement at all levels. The strategy aligns with that of the other UK climate organisations, represented by the Climate Coalition. It is Power Shift “UK” because there are Power Shifts happening all over the planet, from the places most affected by climate change in Africa and the island nations, to the lead culprits in Australia, the US and Canada.
I have been working with Fiona and Laeti at CCC on a funding application to help support the work. This is where we are at in describing our aims:
- To provide concerned citizens and groups with a platform for discussion and learning around climate change issues; to build a strong foundation and diversified movement to ensure a just transition towards climate justice and action
- To give communities and their projects the spotlight and opportunities to demonstrate that alternatives and solutions to climate change are possible; To learn from these community solutions; To invite communities to share their skills in and outside the climate movement.
- To influence policy and key decision makers in the UK in order to provide a mandate for them to implement the example solutions and alternatives put forward by our British communities; To create space for change to protect citizens who already suffer the consequences of climate change in the UK.
Knowing we are part of a much bigger movement breeds togetherness and a positive, re-enforcing energy that helps to conquer the exhaustion. It brings inspiration, ideas, skills and experience that strengthen what we do. It allows people who are partially involved, or are merely at the moment observers, to give themselves permission to join the movement, be that making changes in their own lives, taking part in an event or helping with an initiative.
This groundswell will give the politicians the mandate to enact legislation and bring in policies to turn the tide and bring the rest of us along. Critical mass will be reached and apathy and ignorance will be swept up in the river of change and what might at the moment seem like inconsequent activity will be justified. It is that vision that keeps me going.
Will it happen? I can only hope.