Transition Stroud

This is a shared history blog. Together we can write the history of our process of transition as it happens.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Launch of the Eco-Bardic Manifesto

If you've ever wondered what we will be doing to entertain ourselves after oil then clear you mind of the fearful vision of endless games of charades around a single, flickering candle. Last night we enjoyed a feast of entertainment by talented musicians, story-tellers and poets.

A friend had told me about the philosophy behind the eco-bardic manifesto and I was sufficiently intrigued to endure the possible toe-curling nature of what I expected to find in the British School. But my prejudices were blown away by the power and excitement generated by the artists and performers. The evening was a birthday celebration for William Blake, and many of the pieces were either inspired by Blake or recitations of his own verse.

The evening was sponsored by Fire Springs, a company of performers who have been working together since 2000 and who share 'an audacious vision for the arts that holds together commitment to artistic integrity and craft with responsiveness to the challenges of our time.

The manifesto itself is a deep and inspiring document (ring Anthony Nanson on 840887 or Jay Ramsay on 759436 to get hold of a copy) but the message was communicated far more powerfully by the reality of the performances themselves. The bardic tradition is a source of energy from old Albion that we can draw on in our time of need.

Helen Moore recited a poem that had been inspired by a seed-saving event. This year's annual seed-saving was taking place simultaneously next door at Star Anise cafe - so there was much useful cross-fertilisation between the green-fingered types and our local literary artists. How could TV possibly compete?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Green plan for recession launched

The Stroud Subscription Rooms filled with nearly 200 people on a damp Thursday night to hear a panel of speakers looking at how to 'Come out of the Recession Healthier, Wealthier and a Lot More Green'. Many Transition Stroud members were amongst the audience and Helen Royall had a stall with info and more to encourage people to participate.

Photo: Colin Hines, Simon Pickering, Molly Scott Cato, Martin Whiteside and chair Carole Garfield - other hotos of event and Transition Stroud stall

The event was the Gloucestershire launch of the 'New Green Deal' on Thursday 27th November - it included lead speaker Colin Hines, co director of Finance for the Future and a former head of Greenpeace Economics Unit, who was the originator of the Green New Deal concept. He also co-authored the report with a panel including Green party Leader and MEP Dr Caroline Lucas, Richard Murphy, Co-Director of Finance for the Future and Director, SolarCentury boss Jeremy Leggett, Guardian Economic Editor Larry Elliot, and former Friends of the Earth chief Tony Juniper.

Carole Garfield of Stroud Chamber of Commerce chaired the evening and opened the event by saying that the Green New Deal was a response to the global economy facing a ‘triple crunch’: a combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices.

Colin Hines introduced the Green New Deal that calls for the increase in public expenditure to be spent funding hundreds of thousands of green collar jobs in a 'carbon army'. This 'army' will be trained to make every building in the UK energy efficient and increase the use of renewables. He said: "Investment in this 'Green New Deal' will create jobs all over the country, whereas tax cuts will have fewer benefits as people are likely to increase immediate spending largely on imported goods."

The other speakers were Dr Simon Pickering from Ecotricity; Molly Scott Cato, Economist and Euro-Parliamentary Candidate and Councillor Martin Whiteside, International Development Worker and Parliamentary Candidate. After each spoke there was an hour of lively questions and comments taken from the floor.

Martin Whiteside made the links between the national plans for green investment and local businesses. He said: "The Green New Deal is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in the businesses that will create a sustainable green economy. The Government has recognized the need to invest to prevent massive increases in unemployment, but is going down the wrong route. Instead of tax cuts we need to see investment is being spent strategically to bring about a green industrial revolution."

Molly Scott Cato said: "It's time to put to rest once and for all the false option of choosing between economic success and environmental sustainability. We must engineer the green economy of the future to compensate for the collapse of a discredited economic model dependent on credit binges, gravity defying house prices and increasing consumption. In short it's time for the Green New Deal."

Simon Pickering from Ecotricity discussed the important role that electricity generation and supply companies must play in the low-carbon economy. To applause he announced that papers for compulsory purchase will be served on Tricorn House owners : Ecotricity hopes that an exciting zero-carbon building with energy from local wind power generation will be built on the site.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal report proposes public investment of £30 billion that will save energy and have the added advantages of helping to address climate change and increase UK energy security. In the short term it will address the threats to the real economy from an economic downturn that threatens to rival the crash of 1929.

It proposes:

* A £30bn stimulus package, creating thousands of green-collar jobs in environmental works that will dramatically reduce the carbon emissions of UK buildings
* The creation of new national investment products, such as local government bonds, to fund this work and provide a safe haven for pensions and savings
* Keeping interest rates low to encourage investment in the green economy
* Shifting from VAT to pollution taxes, cutting the standard rate of VAT to 15%, and reducing it to 5% for some items, and abolishing road tax whilst increasing pollution taxes on fuel
* Closing offshore tax havens to stabilise the financial sector, discourage tax avoidance and to help provide funds for the Green New Deal

You can download a copy of the report at: