With the recent Green Wave in last weeks local and general elections, there has been some talk about how going green means that a lot of people need to make some hard decisions, and that in some ways we are in for a tougher future if the greens have their way. I’m goin to completely disagree with that, and explain why it’s going to be much better for all of us!
I like many other people who voted green last weekend have been trying our best to reduce our impact on the planet, both at looking at our own consumption and the way we live, some of us for quite some time. I don’t know anyone who is worse off from trying to do this.
I’ve been cycling and using public transport to get to work for most of my working career. Sometimes this has meant that I have had to make choices about where I live and work, but it has not been bad for my quality of life. I’m fact, only owning one car in the family has probably saved a lot of money over the years. Now with more green voices in Europe and on the councils I can expect to see better cycle lanes and better public transport policies, which make it easier for me to get around, and maybe move to being a no car family in the near future.
For a number of years, I have tried to reduce the carbon footprint of what I eat. This means trying to buy less processed and packaged food, and trying to buy from local independent traders as much as possible. Additionally, while not going vegan we have reduced our intake of meat to only a few days a week. Having greens in office helps here also, with their oversight of planning and better regulations and oversight of packaging and packaging waste.
Putting greens in office also helps to change policy and regulations to make it easier for us all to be conscientious about the environment. This includes putting in measures to help people be more energy efficient, as well as cutting down on the pollution and waste that businesses and even the government produce on our behalf.
Look at carbon taxes as one measure. The Green Party want to see this as a dividend based scheme, which means that everyone will be paid money back from the tax that will be levied on the use of fuel. The vast majority of people who are trying to keep control of their carbon footprint are going to do well, as they will be paid back more money than the extra they will pay on fuel/energy. Putting the tax on the fuel will change the incentives to help people make decisions to go green. While it is only a small part of cutting down on greenhouse gases, we have to do everything we can.
Having community owned and district energy systems is something else we need. This means helping local groups to tap in to the free energy of the sun and the ground, and being able to share that with the community. Green politics fights for this.
Green politics is also about making decisions at the lowest effective level, and looking after all of our people. It is a compassionate politics, based on social justice for the planet and the people. We know that when there are people who can’t afford to put food on the table for their children that the environment is the last thing they are worried about. But these are the same people and children who end up with chronic health problems causes by a damaged environment and a poorly planned city. Green politics is about helping them too.
We also believe in making the right evidence based decisions in all areas of running the states business. That means better and more effective councils, and better and more effective regulations coming out of Europe. The environment is everything around us: I have personally been involved in drawing up green health policy, and like all of our extensive policies, it’s about a lot more that the environment.
Shopping local, cycling, walking and taking the bus, living in more connected communities is better for our health and our wealth. With greens in our councils and Europe we can do more to help everyone do these things.
We can live with the freedom of taking the boat and train instead of the stress of being cooped up in a Ryanair flight to somewhere vaguely near where we want to be going, with only 12ounces of carry on baggage and a constant fear of being let down.
It no sacrifice at all, as Elton John might say! And the opposite, a world with rising sea levels, increasing storms, unpredictability in food supply: that sounds like it’s going to be tough!