The run up to Christmas saw the Government consolidate its austerity agenda and continue its attack on our environment. 2016 is a great opportunity for Greens to show a different path is not just possible but that by linking effective campaigning to inspirational politics, we can make it happen! Here are our 10 Green challenges for 2016:
- Climate Action. 2016 is already predicted to be the hottest year on record by the UK Met Office. It is vital we Greens keep the pressure on Government to put Paris’s words into action with a real clamp down on carbon, and take proper action to adapt to climate change that meets the needs of all, including on flooding.
- Think Global and Support Refugees. As Greens we must take action to help others who need our help – from continuing to give a warm welcome not just to refugees on our doorsteps but people suffering in many troubled parts of the world. As well as fighting for equality and mitigating climate change we must live with and adapt to a future where migration increases.
- No New Runways. Government action to avert climate change and plans for further airport expansion are completely incompatible (a new runway is due to get the green light after the elections in May). As Greens we continue to point out the obvious – that continued aviation growth undermines vital carbon emission cuts and that simple and inspiring alternatives like the frequent flyer levy already exist. Why not start by writing to your MP
- A Nuclear free New Year. A Parliamentary vote to invest in Trident nuclear weapons – join Caroline Lucas at the Stop Trident March on February 27. Stopping Trident will free up £100bn to help local communities and struggling families.
- A Lucas Plan for 2016! What better way to stand-up to Osborne’s budgets that continue to dismantle the health, education and local council services across the UK than by seeking inspiration from the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan. This pioneering plan aimed to create (green) jobs that directed technology for the social good, addressed issues such as sustainability, nuclear weapons and austerity together. So let’s make plans for green economies in the South East in 2016.
- Acting Locally - Renewal and Transition. We need more community action to bring forth new enterprises and investment – including renewables such as in Brighton. Solar is unstoppable but the winds of change must blow stronger against the government’s renewable energy cuts. We must replace austerity with hope by replicating successes in transitioning our local economies and communities.
- Healthy Public Services in 2016. The green vision of a public health service, where prevention comes first are not reflected in the 20% cut to public health announced in the budget or the soaring rate of NHS privatisation. We must still keep our NHS public.
- No Fracking in 2016! We must stand against fracking and oil drilling - which may take off across the South East including under our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and also make a strong case for sufficient energy alternatives. That is why our positive opposition can win. We can petition parliament (please sign) and take non-violent direct action. Above all we should recognise that the most effective political pressure includes standing, and winning, elections.
- EU Referendum – Likely in June 2016. We can fight to rescue the referendum debate from what could be a narrowly fought battle financed by those backing big business interests and those viewing migration as a threat. Expect more news on the Green Yes campaign to stay in and fight to reform Europe for the better early in 2016.
- Build on the Green Surge. With a stronger and more active membership we can better link politics, campaigning and practical actions. But we must also engage with those we don’t know through doorstep conversations and (social) media to turn our political landscape green. Let’s make 2016 the year we break through on to more local councils across the South East and hold the dominant political parties to account.
And finally, be Re-energised! Whatever it is in your local community, the environment or our wider world that touches your soul and gives you the energy to pick-up and start out again I hope that you are (re)energised to stand-up to all the challenges and co-create all the opportunities that the New Year brings.
Let’s help each other make that happen!
Jonathan Essex is a Surrey Councillor and Chair of South East Green Party