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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NEW DATE: The Climate Emergency in Dacorum – How You Can Speak Truth to Power

17 September 2020 

6.30 pm 

Online by Zoom  

Hemel Hempstead Quakers are holding our first ever online workshop to help build skills to advocate for climate justice. 

We’ll be talking about local government structures and what we can do to get elected representatives to act quicker on the declared Climate Emergency. 

The leader of the workshop will be Rebecca Woo

Rebecca is Campaigns and Advocacy Co-ordinator for Quaker Peace and Social Witness. As a lawyer and campaigner for climate and social justice, her role is to deliver expertise to local Quakers and help build skills in advocacy and lobbying in their communities. 

Why are Quakers holding this event for free? 

Quakers are working to build an energy and economic system that has equality, justice and sustainability at its heart. Find out more here:  https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/sustainability/climate-justice-1

 The workshop will be held on Zoom on 17 September 2020, 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm 

Register in advance for this meeting:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Sep 17, 2020 06:30 PM London

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAlce2opjwiEtUGA3Qh5haoOrGO8s_h_iZw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For more information contact us.

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Difficult questions in a time of change

Shrubs in flower

A beautiful image from our Quaker Meeting House garden.

During a pandemic with no end in sight, and as the effects of climate change continue, it’s not an easy time in our lives.

Yet even as we ’stay at home’ or ’stay alert’, there’s important work we can do.

We, as a Meeting, have already decided to confront the challenge of climate change.

We seek clean energy, clean air, clean water, in a safe habitat for humans and wildlife alike.

Far-reaching changes in energy generation, green space, transportation, housing, food distribution, even jobs, education, and health care will be necessary to achieve the goal.

 

Quaker Advices and Queries 34:

‘Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs.

Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.’

Do we, as a Meeting and as individuals, have the resolve, and the caring, to work among ourselves and with officials and residents of Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum Borough to rise to meet the challenge of climate change together?

During our recent online meeting for worship,  we shared feelings about climate change and our responses to this question.

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News from the Garden

Spring has sprung. Enjoy these lovely photos taken by Roger.

 

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Coronavirus and Meeting for Worship: Update

We have decided to suspend Meeting for Worship for the foreseeable future in the light of the government’s advice about avoiding all non-essential contact, especially for those in vulnerable groups, which includes all aged over 70.

This evening we have received a message from Friends House that this is their advice too.  Here is part of what they said:

We advise meetings not to gather in person while the current social distancing guidance is in force.  Current guidance is that everyone should avoid all large gatherings and any gatherings in smaller places (such as cinemas, restaurants, pubs).  Government statements have made clear that religious gatherings are included in this category.  Many faiths and denominations have announced they will cease public acts of worship.”

They note that meetings will need to think about how they maintain their community when they are not meeting face to face, and how important it is to stay in touch by other means, e.g. over the phone.  We will certainly be trying to maintain contact with everyone by phone and email.

We will also be looking at possibilities for using IT to create “virtual” meetings for those who would like to try this.  Friends House has some information on this and is actively working on how they can support meetings.  Some Friends might like to set aside time for silent reflection at home, especially on a Sunday morning, knowing that some other Friends will be doing the same and will be with them in spirit.

How long it will be before we can restart Meeting for Worship, we don’t know.  But even if we are not able to meet on a Sunday, let us continue to support each other in spirit and in practical ways until the situation improves.

Wishing you all good health,

In Friendship,

Kathy

Kathy Lazenbatt

Clerk, Hemel Hempstead Local Quaker Meeting

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Clerks Notices for March 2020


March Notices for Hemel quakers
Click image above to view larger

Watch a video about the work done by our charity of the month,  Hope for  Children, founded by our member Dr Bob Parsons

 

and Freedom from Torture

 

 

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by | 2nd March 2020 · 7:04 pm

19 April : Join on Zoom: Responding to the Climate Emergency: what is our part in this great work? 

 

Quaker Meeting for Learning:   Inspiration, guidance and examples for practical involvement. 

 

19 April at St Albans Meeting House 

Rebecca Woo or Libby Hanks (both newly appointed) from QPSW will lead the session and provide a major input. Colin Hall, David Maxwell, Heather Mitchell and Rob Paton are involved in the organisation of this event. 

The draft programme is as follows:

1-2 pm bring and share lunch – contributions to the lunch to be low carbon / environmentally friendly. 

2 pm Introductory main session. Re-acquainting ourselves with the climate emergency: 4 x workshops (choice of)

  1. What skills and gifts can I bring as a Quaker?
  2. Economic solutions – fee dividend
  3. Creative low carbon living
  4. Join Extinction Rebellion or not? 

Plenary Session – visioning our Meetings

All Friends (including young people) are encouraged to attend this important Meeting.  

This event will now be  a virtual meeting by Zoom

Please support this exciting experiment. 

To book your placeplease click on the link below (or copy it into your web browser) and fill in the form: 

 https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScwrxQfNZ-8Hy_TDln-JH2O4rvF6-RAGjHKRuxUR6VmzgOr5w/viewform

New to Zoom?  Many Friends are now using Zoom, and we hope that help can be provided within Local Meetings.  There will be a short dry run to try out Zoom on Friday 17 April at 11.30 a.m.

Don’t have a computer or smart phone?  It will be possible to join the meeting by telephone, but please only if it is really necessary. 

Further information from the organisers:

heather.mitchell @ phonecoop.coop

hall.colin @ gmail.com

davidmaxwell @ phonecoop.coop

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What Love Requires

Westminster Magistrates court fined Berkhamsted Quaker, Sue Hampton,  £105 on Monday 28 October.

Sue had been arrested at the Extinction Rebellion at Trafalgar Square where she had taken the brave decision to glue her hand to a wooden tower. Risking her health, Sue remained glued for 21 hours, until she was arrested.

 

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LONDON KLEZMER QUARTET: SUNDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 2019

2.30 pm:

HEMEL FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE, 1 THE ALLEYS, HP2 5ZB.

London Klezmer Quartet

The London Klezmer Quartet is a dynamic group of performers whose deep understanding of klezmer, the celebratory and soulful music of Eastern European Jews, is reflected in exuberant, passionate and accomplished performances that captivate audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The group plays old and new traditional material guaranteed to move audiences from toe-tapping to tears and back again in moments. Following last year’s highly successful celebratory concert in October, to celebrate the tercentenary of the Hemel Friends Meeting House, LKQ are returning in September this year.

Tickets are selling fast to those who attended and enjoyed last year’s remarkable performance so you should contact me as soon as possible to book a ticket(s). Tickets in advance only.

Cost of tickets £13.  To reserve a ticket:

Please email me : roger.ramsden@ntlworld.com  or

Text me: 07770971218

I will then be in touch to confirm ticket availability and advise on methods of payment.

Thank you.   Roger Ramsden.       [05/08/19]

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