The Climate Jobs Caravan… On the Road!
>>> For photos of events see here.
The Climate Jobs Caravan, currently touring the UK, is catching the imagination of people in the towns and cities it has been visiting. The big message that is coming across from people is: at long last somebody is bringing a positive solution to the economic and climate crises we face.
This is a collection of news from the places we have visited so far – watch this space for further updates.
The two ‘caravans’ set off from Edinburgh and London on 12 May.
- Outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Sarah Boyack MSP (Labour), Patrick Harvie MSP (Green) and Marco Biagi MSP (Nationalist) and Des Loughney, Secretary of Edinburgh TUC addressed those assembled to wave the caravan on its way. Before leaving Edinburgh the caravan stopped in the historic Grassmarket in the centre of the city for two hours to spread its positive message.
From there the northern caravan went on to Newcastle where the caravan had spent the morning engaging with many on the main shopping area. In the afternoon a meeting was held at a nearby venue where about 20 people from different organizations, including unions and local activists debated and discussed the issues raised by the caravan and the booklet on which its ideas are based, One Million Climate Jobs, produced by the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group. The group agreed to set up a local Cacc group to continue to campaign around these issues.
Around 35 people met in Derby to discuss One Million Climate Jobs and campaigning around this theme in Derby. Speakers included the Secretary of the local Trades Council, Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary of UNISON and Suzanne Jeffery, Chair Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group. There was a good discussion with the meeting supported by the local Trades Council. The meeting agreed to adopt a local petition calling for Climate Jobs in Derby. The following day local activists and representative for the Climate Caravan met local councillors. The MP for Derby North Chris Williamson and a number of local councillors have signed a petition calling for Climate Jobs.
Meanwhile, about 30 people attended the Climate Jobs Caravan meeting in Leeds. Speakers represented the Green Party, Leeds CWU union, a local campaign against the building of an incinerator, students from Leeds Metropolitan university, and local socialists. Following a wide-ranging discussion, attendees agreed to set up a campaign for 10,000 climate jobs in Leeds. There was some discussion about whether to focus on climate jobs specifically or a wider campaign for green jobs. Speakers from the floor argued that it was important to campaign for both, but it was climate jobs that would make the difference to both austerity and the environmental crisis.
- Stoke-on -Trent
- The following report was written by Gareth who was travelling with the van on its visit to Stoke, his report forms part of a fuller report written for his UCU branch on the Climate Jobs Caravan. Thanks to Gareth for this.
Our next stop was Stoke, where we were greeted by shop stewards from the PCS and by a couple of local councillors. They help us pitch camp beside a pedestrian precinct. The interior of the van is converted into a mini-cinema, with the climate jobs video showing within. Outside, a large ‘political plant’ is manoeuvred into place: a wheelie bin with huge fabricated leaves and flowers emerging from it, each one painted with climate-jobs slogans, that a Mancunian artist had dreamt up and donated. The councillors help us distribute leaflets, all the while filling us in with details of the local economic blight (the decimation of the ceramics industry, the closure of the Shelton Bar steelworks) and of the sustainability initiatives that they are attempting to push forward. In conversations with passers-by we are struck by the number of people who are either unemployed or working below qualification—most memorably, a graduate in environmental science who works at a supermarket checkout. Many signatures are added to our petitions, and only an occasional ‘climate denier’ raises his head; one such imagines that ‘I bet you read the Guardian!’ is a crafty taunt. He’s right: one of us does buy that day’s Guardian. It carries a story on the implosion of the so-called ‘green deal’: according to the government’s own figures, the rate of new loft and cavity wall insulations is collapsing, by 93% and 67% respectively.
The caravan was met in Sheffield by activists and a local folk singer who was releasing her new record about climate change to coincide with arrival of the caravan. There was a very good response to the caravan during the day which was also visited by local councillors. There was an excellent 70 plus evening meeting following time spent with the caravan in the City centre. The next morning activists held a conference on an economy for the 99%. More information from Sheffield will follow shortly.
From Liverpool Clara send this inspiring report: The Liverpool event went very well. During the day we had a public "street market style" event with the climate van and a marquee where 9 local groups taking part and Joining the climate caravan stalls: PCS Union, Friends of the Earth, Liverpool Climate Action Network, Liverpool Green Party, Greenpeace, Merseyside CND, Recycles (and their bike doctor stall), Student Action for Refugees and the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority with the "Love Food, Hate Waste" van. We reached out to thousands of people during the day, getting many interested in the idea of climate jobs. We also had dozens signing the petitions and writing messages to the government about why they "want a climate job".
We had Artemis production performing throughout the day with a giant flower on stilts, interacting with children and gaining attention from by-passers. We also welcomed the Liverpool Socialists Singers entertaining us during the afternoon, especially with their new song "no to climate change". They will keep the song as part of their repertoire (but will change main line to "yes to climate jobs"!)
In the evening, we held a meeting about fracking at the Friends meeting house with 25 people attending (not too bad for a Saturday night with the football on!). We showed the film "fracking hell" followed with Philip Mitchell from Blackpool Green Party speaking and debate. We concluded the event by showing the short version of the "One million climate jobs" film introduced by John Stewart.
Overall, it was brilliant, got local groups to work together, something we hope to sustain and got some of our PCS Green reps engaged. I am also glad to report that I am now the Merseyside TUC Green Officer.
A report from John Stewart who spoke at the meeting in Huddersfield. There was a very good day in Huddersfield. In the morning about half a dozen environmental and anti-cuts groups set up stalls around the caravan in Slaithwaite which finished with a short talk from me. Then a guided walk to see the solar panels installed on roofs and the opportunities for renewable energy generation and tackling fuel poverty from such initiatives.
Finally an evening showing of the One Million Climate Jobs film, a talk from John Stewart and a panel discussion. The panel included the Labour leader of Kirklees Council and Cat from UKYCC and a trade unionist with around 25 in attendance.
A quick report from Bolton from Martin who spoke at the meeting in Bolton more to follow from local activists. Bolton meeting tonight was very good. It was an excellent discussion. They're going to put together a future meeting to plan activity and have some excellent campaigning ideas. Lots of DVDs and pamphlets were sold, in part because 4 or 5 contributions explained how good the pamphlet was. A union member from UNISON spoke about raising the motion for One Million Climate jobs in their union meeting and want speakers to come and talk about the issue. Earlier in the day the report from Tony who is travelling with the van is that the response in Bolton was very positive. Though there were several stories of "despair” from local young people who are unemployed and hoped we were offering actual jobs. It is the local Bolton MP who has taken the initiated the early day motion on Climate Jobs.
In London the caravan was waived off on its way by supporters on a much welcome sunny day. Before the caravan departed from Parliament, John McDonnell MP, Murad Qureshi GLA member, Graham Peterson UCU, Francesca from UKYCC and Peter Colville from Occupy all pressed home the same message. Climate Jobs are an obvious and necessary way to tackle the growing climate crisis and the misery and obscenity of growing unemployment. Picking up on the Climate Job Centre theme, John McDonnell suggested that the slogan should be “Gizza Climate Job”.
Before leaving London the caravan was met at Grow Heathrow by supporters who have been part of the successful campaign to stop a Third Runway at Heathrow. Climate Jobs are the alternative to work based on increasing use of fossil fuels.
In Coventry the Caravan spent the day outside the national Trades Council conference. There was an excellent response from activists, many of whom took lots of leaflets and information back to their own branches.
In Cardiff the southern caravan timed its visit to coincide with the TSSA rail union’s annual conference, parking outside the hotel and engaging with TSSA delegates and passers-by. They were delighted that the Conference agreed an emergency motion to embed the Climate Jobs campaign in to union campaigning, getting the message to branches, engaging members and asking for much-needed donations. The caravan then travelled across town to Unite’s Transport House. Here a stall was set up and films were shown during the afternoon.
In the evening over 40 people packed into the upstairs room of an atmospheric pub. They included a number of members of the TSSA union whose past president addressed the meeting. A positive discussion ensued. As at Newcastle, the various groups represented at the meeting agreed to try to form a network to promote the positive ideas of the caravan at a local and regional level.
John Stewart reports from Birmingham where he spoke at the evening meeting. From Cardiff to Birmingham and a meeting in the splendid surroundings of Birmingham Town Hall. I spoke alongside Hanna Thomas, the Director of the Otesha Project which promotes green jobs for young in East London. Again, over 40 people from a range of organizations, including West Midlands Friends of the Earth whose well-respected coordinator, Chris Crean, chaired the meeting. The meeting included people who were doing work on practical job creation home insulation projects. At the end of the meeting the different organizations represented agreed that they wanted to coordinate their activities more closely in the future.
Tom from Cambridge sent the following report: The Cambridge leg of the climate caravan was a step forward for the campaign locally with three events. The van had an excellent response in the pedestrianised zone during the day with lots of visitors to the stall and 25 pamphlets being sold.
A lunchtime meeting of bus users, organised by the Campaign for Better Transport and Friends of the Earth, brought together the council group leaders from both Labour and the Lib Dems alongside a climate jobs speaker. The Trades Council hosted an evening meeting with Suzanne Jeffery Chair of the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group and from that a climate jobs centre is being planned for a local free festival as well as plan for a climate jobs audit to submit to the city councils local plan!
From Oxford Daniel reports: A quick note on the Oxford event as the Caravans wend their way across the country. We hosted a speaker event in the main square in Oxford with the Lord Mayor, other Green Party and Labour City Councillors, Representative from UK Uncut, Euro MP Catherine Bearded and Ken from the “van”. The stall/van stayed to attract passersby for an hour until moving up to Oxford Brookes Uni where Occupy had set up camp and hundreds of leaflets were put into student hands. Then back down the hill to Wadham College for a debate which made up in substance for what it lacked in numbers. Important contributions were made by Colin Tudge on the extraordinary need and capacity of the food/agricultural industry to increase the labour force, from Paul Buckingham describing the problems of the building sector in building and refitting to the quality required, Graham Peterson on the contradiction between the need for training and skills while further eduction experiences cuts, and from Ken and Josh Moos from the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group. Peter Dwyer from Ruskin College then spoke about the current political situation and we enjoyed a debate between left and right (or middle, with LibDem Catherine Bearder our Euro MP) and others discussing the opportunities which might arise from the current economic crisis.
We hope that other have such stimulating event inspired by the Climate Jobs Caravan. Our challenges in Oxford include greater involvement from the Unions and from the colleges of further education.
From Norwich Lesley reports, Trade Unionists, Green Activists, Quakers, socialists and non-aligned others were delighted to host the Caravan at The Forum in the city centre on Thursday May 17th. There was much enthusiasm for an idea whose time has come.
The evening public meeting generated an interesting 'how to' discussion, and a mailing list of people, who intend to take it further. It was noted that since Copenhagen, when 'they' were going to try to do some of what was necessary, things have changed and we can't afford it - though we can bail out the banks. We have an urgent climate crisis and a desperate need for jobs. Austerity is worsening both, the deregulated market has failed and the government response is characterised by the cut in the Feed in Tariff. A million climate jobs in the UK would lead to a stable climate and a stable economy, good long-term jobs, investment and tax base. There are local examples of pioneering projects, such as Kirklees fuel poverty reduction scheme, and Norfolk's energy supply company. We need government to follow with a national climate service
The following report has just arrived from Bobby from Southampton: I think we had a good day. The Caravan visited various bodies involved in sustainable enterprises then came to Guildhall Square where the local newspaper sent a photographer to get shots of Alan Whitehead MP, the Leader of the Labour Council and myself plus shots of the caravan and the banner with a small crowd around it. Alan then opened the proceedings officially and we watched the video. The Caravan remained in the square until 8.30pm when it left for Portsmouth. The evening meeting went well and we finished the day with a promise from
Richard Williams, the Labour Leader to involve the TUC in their climate change panel and a member of the audience agreed to set up a community pressure group.