‘A little bit of everything’ sums up what we have been doing in the past couple of months. The Climate Change Bill campaigning has very nearly come to a close. Our one last big push was an action day on the issue of aviation emissions. Two Birmingham FoE campaigners, dressed as an air steward and sea captain, joined Oxfam and Christian Aid on Harborne High Street where passers-by signed ‘plane-shaped’ postcards calling on Gordon Brown to include international aviation and shipping emissions in the Climate Change Bill; the cards may well have arrived at the House of Commons by the time this goes to print. The Bill has already passed through the House of Lords where it was strengthened in many ways.
The following weekend, we held another day of action – this time, on the Pershore Road in Stirchley. Campaigners dressed up as ghosts, wearing white sheets (we didn’t really know what ghosts look like!). We highlighted the fact that local shops are under threat from the proposal to build a huge new Tesco supermarket nearby. Campaigners Joe, Emma and Sarah visited local shopkeepers to ask their views and to distribute our posters and leaflets. From speaking to locals, it was clear that the closure of the Post Office has already had significant damage on local trade.
A packed-out speaker event in Solihull on the extension of Birmingham Airport’s runway resulted in a majority of residents opposing the extension by a ratio of 2 to 1. Local MP, Lorely Burt, and John Morris from Birmingham Airport spoke in favour of the extension, while AirportWatch’s John Stewart and Friends of the Earth’s Chris Crean spoke against. Energetic and impassioned pleas in the audience ensured that the debate, chaired by Solihull News Editor Ross Crawford, was fast-moving and kept everyone thinking. Subsequent media coverage was impressive and included a Birmingham Post front page article based on research by Phil Burrows, an in-depth analysis using much of our own arguments, and a full-page feature written by James Botham.
We were privileged to have Birmingham University Masters student, Roxanne Green, with us for two weeks. Roxanne did some splendid work researching the background for and writing an election questionnaire for all of the candidates at Solihull Council’s local elections. The responses are on our website and we briefed the press of our findings. Roxanne, along with former teacher Dave Watton, ran four workshops on climate change for year 8 pupils at Cockshutt Hill School in Sheldon for their Citizenship Day. Further outreach was done by myself when I was privileged to speak at the Legal Services Commission’s Green Day. Ministry of Justice regulations have banned bins in their offices!
On transport, we have expressed our views on the draft cycling strategy for the city while in the areas of biodiversity and climate change, we have learned of the new Friends of the Earth national campaign on biofuels, where most types have shown themselves to be a false solution to the climate problem. We hope to take part in this campaign over the summer. Contact us if you want to get involved!
But the best news from the past two months has to be that the Faith and Climate Change project, led by Maud Grainger, has got through to the final 100 bids in the NESTA Big Green Challenge competition where initiatives from all over the country are ‘battling’ for a slice of £1 million to deliver their project plans and benefit from the support of consultants. Keep your eyes on this one!