Author Archives: Sherief Hassan

Speaking Truth to Power – Follow up blog #1 How does reduced financial inequality lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions?

At our recent event, The Climate Emergency in Dacorum – How You Can Speak Truth to Power there was debate on the questions posed by the climate justice movement.

Some citizens felt that reducing inequality between richer and poorer nations would simply result in a greater output of emissions as countries achieved higher levels of production. 

This is a complex issue so we were pleased to receive the following thoughtful and informed letter from a Quaker at Luton meeting, Colin Hall, who is also the secretary of the Bedford Climate Forum. 

 

Dear Friends at Hemel Hempstead

Many thanks for organising this event on Climate Emergency, and to Rebecca Woo for leading it.  Action on climate the environmental crisis is so utterly important, yet it seems to figure so little in current UK government planning, as far as we can tell.  Thanks too for the links and follow up material from Rebecca.

I have been thinking about the vital concept of climate justice and in particular the searching question asked about whether reduced financial inequality (desirable in itself) would actually lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions, i.e. as suggested, would not the poor produce more GHG as they become richer?

I can think of various related reasons to be hopeful that greater financial equality if enacted could help to address climate catastrophe – there may be many others:

  1. More equal societies do better in many key respects, one of which is greater environmental awareness.
  2. Now is not forever.  Great financial equality could lead to different values and mindset that in turn might lead to changed behaviour.  Rather than competing one with another, we might think and act more with and for others, and the whole world at large, with a greater sense of both service and connection with our neighbours and indeed the whole world.  Thus, becoming somewhat richer might not mean that we would behave like the present over-consuming rich.
  3. Related to this the “converge and contract” model, often used at UN level, outlines relations between richer and poorer countries, but is also applicable within societies.  Poor countries must first of all be brought up to an acceptable level of wealth, then all countries can agree to rein in environmentally destructive practices, including those based on fossil-fuels.
  4. The Earth can no longer afford the rich.  Huge current inequality means that the rich are inherently dangerous, often committed to an extractive economic, world-endangering system and status quo, with the connections and influence to maintain it in their own interests because of their wealth (OXFAM Report).  Redistribution from rich to poor could weaken this power that threatens democracy, as well as life on earth.  By “the rich” we can mean both very wealthy individuals and very powerful corporations within the whole system of financialised capitalism. 
  5. A carbon fee (or tax) and dividend could help both to reduce financial inequality and promote carbon savings.  In this scheme, fossil fuels are taxed as close to source as possible.  The revenue raised is repaid to all citizens equally as a dividend.  The rich use carbon resources proportionally far more than average or poorer members of society (e.g they fly much more), and so they pay higher carbon fees. The overall effect is to redistribute from rich to poorer.  Fossil fuels and goods that contain them become more expensive as the tax is included in prices, discouraging consumption of them.   An advantage claimed for carbon tax and dividend is that it will secure “buy-in” for action on climate emergency from most people.  To be effective it must be charged at a high rate as soon as possible in order to provide a kind of basic income (or ingredient of it) and to reduce carbon consumption sufficiently. 

However, we should support the compelling concept of climate justice as an end in itself because it is morally right.  It has been framed in a related manner in terms of Human Rights by the Quaker United Nations Office.  See:  https://quno.org/sites/default/files/resources/QUNO_A%20Negotiators%20Toolkit_May%202018_SPREADS.pdf 

We should argue for a universal system of climate justice that includes future generations (we are stealing from the yet unborn) and rights for all species of life on Earth, together with ecocide as a crime in national and international law, as proposed by the recent French Citizens Convention. https://www.conventioncitoyennepourleclimat.fr/en/

As Quakers, we aim to build the republic of heaven on Earth, no less.

In Friendship

Colin

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Speaking Truth to Power: A dozen ways forward for the environment in Dacorum

 

Our first ever online Climate Justice event took place on 17 September 2020. We were delighted to host this event with 27 registrants from a wide spectrum of climate allies in Dacorum. 

They shared their ideas and experiences of trying to influence local government about critical environmental issues. It was great to have so many well informed and expert participants. 

We all learned a great deal from our host speaker and climate advocate, Rebecca Woo, who is keyed into all the very latest thinking and action on climate justice in the UK and round the world.

Workshop Output

Everyone pledged to take steps to learn more or take action.  Here are a dozen things, large and small people committed to:

    1. Try to find and join a local group relevant to my area of concern, and try to put aside time to engage with it at defined times every month.
    2. Engage more with councillors. 
    3. Finish Sunnyside Rural Trust’s environmental action plan
    4. Check and progress Dacorum Environmental Forum Steering Group action to send Climate Change letter to someone at Dacorum Boro Council.
    5. More networking with like minded people
    6. Identify potential allies more systematically.
    7. Put the anniversary of the climate emergency declaration of Dacorum Borough and Herts County Councils in my calendar and check their progress against stated intentions.
    8. Discuss next steps with Dacorum Environmental Forum in view of presentation
    9. Encourage councillors to reach out to developers in positive green routes in all housing development.
    10. How to try to get local authorities to insist on better standards of insulation in newly built houses. Also in existing houses.
    11. Share ideas from this meeting with Watford Quaker Climate Justice group to help us shape our next actions. 
    12. Try to find out the exact trail of recycled goods from the home to their final destination.

We are pleased that the representatives of so many local organisations felt reinvigorated in their commitment to preserving our precious ecosystem. 

To get involved in supporting them, please visit their websites and contact their representatives:

Boxmoor Trust

Dacorum Environmental Forum

Halsey Field Wildlife Site

Plastic Free Tring 

Sunnyside Rural Trust 

Herts County Council – (represented at the event by William Wyatt-Lowe, Hemel Hempstead) 

 Extinction Rebellion Dacorum 

We are grateful to Rebecca Woo, Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator, Quaker Peace and Social Witness for her detailed presentation. 

Useful guides for speaking to people in power:

Community wealth building:

Community municipal bonds or investment:

Other links and groups Rebecca mentioned:

  • The amazing 4Cs project
  • The work the New Economics Foundation is doing on the modelling for a minimum income guarantee
  • The work student-led group Rethinking Economics is doing to build a better understanding of economics in the classroom
  • The 3.5% rule (Erica Chenoweth – Harvard)
  • The Build Back Better campaign, which provides an invaluable opportunity to ensure your climate action reflects recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting point for this is their website (in the slides) but you’re also welcome to look at the Build Back Better Briefing for Quakers.
  • The role of young people and indigenous peoples in creating more caring and sustainable society:   Meera Ghani’s words in Oxfam’s ‘Climate Justice: Feminist Journeys’ Zine 

 

If you have any questions about the slides or content please contact us using our contact page

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Getting ready for Apple Day

We are busy collecting apples off our two trees ready for pressing on Apple Day, 29 September.

There has been a bumper crop this year, but the apples are falling very early so we are wrapping them carefully to keep them fresh.

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300 years of Quakers in Hemel Hempstead: Our Pilgrimage to the old Quaker burial ground

We are delighted to be celebrating three hundred years since the establishment of the Quaker Meeting House and burial ground in Hemel Hempstead in 1718.

Easter Pilgrimage to the Old Burial Ground at Wood End, April 2018

Our first celebration was a pilgrimage to the site of the former meeting house and burial ground on the outskirts of town. Friends braved the cold, wet weather of an April Easter Monday. We stood silently on the patch of ground where it is believed the earliest Quakers are buried. The graves are unmarked. The site is in a field adjacent to the boundary between Dacorum and St Albans.

We travelled to Wood End by minibus.

Friends stood in silence on the site of the unmarked graves.

A team of Friends walked back to the Meeting House down the Nicky Line.

We were all looking forward to a cuppa …

There was a delicious spread waiting for us at the meeting house.

 

 

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Gilbert hits the floor at a hundred

gilberts 100 copyLocal artist Gilbert Rigg celebrated his 100th birthday on 1 November with a party and art exhibition at the local Quaker Meeting House in the Old Town. He was joined by around 40 friends and family from Hemel Hempstead and beyond.

Gilbert has lived in Hemel for 62 years. He was imprisoned for being a conscientious objector and then joined the Quakers after the second world war. He started painting in his teens and has used his art to express his feelings on contemporary issues. Subjects include artificial intelligence, celebrity culture, nuclear weapons, the arms trade and most recently, the futility of war. These subjects are juxtaposed against the pastoral backdrop of the Chiltern countryside.IMG_9518

In 2013 a sale of his work raised £500 for the Hospice of St. Francis in Berkhamsted.

Gilbert said this to the Quaker meeting on Sunday: “I have lived adventurously.”

For his photo, he refused to stand in front of the group but instead chose to sit on the floor with younger members of the meeting.

Gilbert’s story is one of several told in a short book by local Quaker, Audrey Pitchforth entitled ‘Faith into Action‘ which details the lives of several Quaker conscientious objectors from Hemel Hempstead meeting .

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Quaker Week 2015

0_151002-TheFriend-CoverThis week is Quaker Week!

For events see quaker.org.uk/events.

Visitors to the meeting house this week are invited to take a complimentary copy of ‘The Friend‘ magazine, featuring articles on Quaker work in diverse areas such as in Human rights, Conflict resolution, Climate change and Young adult leadership.

 

 

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Welcome to our new updated site

quaker_symbol_buttonWe have migrated from our old site which we felt wasn’t serving members of the meeting and the wider community.

Notices of events and activities of Hemel Hempstead Local Quakers at the Meeting House and other venues will be highlighted here along with other notices.

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