[Graphic recording of the event done by the wonderfully talented Sarah Filmer.]
The first Southampton Climate Change Conversation took place on Friday 27th November. Over 300 people attended the event which was curated by James Dyke of the University of Southampton together with Dangerous Ideas Southampton.
There were lots of tweets about the event via #sotonclimate @cchangesoton and you can find out more and see some wonderful images via storify
Alan Whitehead MP gave the keynote speech – a sobering discussion of the reality of climate change. Alan played an important role in putting the Climate Change Act (2008) onto the statute books and he reminded us that this was the world’s first piece of legislation relating to the reduction of carbon emissions.
He continued, however, with the statement that the UK will fall short of both the 4th and 5th carbon budgets. Therefore, we must adopt substantial new measures for emissions reductions, such as decarbonising energy production. He finished by emphasising the importance of local action and making Southampton an energy efficient city.
“It is down to us to make that important contribution… If the [rest of the world] knows that we in Southampton are determined, then this will help spur them on.”
[Photographs by Thomas Pattison Photography]
This was followed by a talk by Clare Diaper from Transition Southampton who let us know about all the great sustainability projects happening across the city. The presentation slides from the talk can be found here. Angela Cotton talked about the Southampton Sustainable Living Guide, which has been updated and republished (and was distributed at the event). If you would like to download pdfs of the guide, they are available from the Transition Southampton website and here.
We then had 30 second pitches from local community action groups:
- Liz and Colin about Clean Air Southampton, which is being set up by Transition Southampton and Western Docks Consultation Forum;
- Rebecca from Dangerous Ideas Southampton which hosts public events to explore issues of fairness, sustainability and creativity in our city;
- Tony, public engagement officer from University of Southampton including organisation of the Researchers Café (next one on 4 December);
- Debbie from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust which looks after places for wildlife and people;
- Lisa from Sustrans encouraging more cycling, walking and working with communities;
- Sebastian from Invest Positive UoS to campaign for university divestment from fossil fuels;
- Roger from West Solent Solar Coop delivering renewable energy to people from Southampton and Hampshire;
- Jo from The Environment Centre reducing carbon emissions in Southampton;
- Cara encouraging people to support the sharing economy.
Jenny Barnes also talked about the Southampton Climate Demonstration taking place on Sunday (over 700 people have signed up!)
Grant Sharkey played a fantastic song about global population to see us into the break. “Now we’re all connected/ We’re all affected/ Now we’re driving/ And it’s time you changed gear”
Paul Maple kicked off the second part by introducing his thought-provoking film The Environmental Litmus Test:
This was then followed by a panel discussion on climate change issues with Clare (Transition), Simon Kemp (Sustainability Action Chair at the University of Southampton), Kate Maple (Global Documentary) and Alan Whitehead MP. There was some great discussion around questions relating to:
- less carbon-intensive food sources
- a carbon tax
- the legal framework around climate change
- market economics & consumption
- the role of education
- what we should be saying to Southampton City Councillors
- individual responsibility
- the response of the Western world to climate change
- eliminating poverty in developing countries
- how we can make people care about climate change
James rounded off the formal part of the evening by reminding us that climate change is as much a a moral and ethical challenge as a scientific one.
“We must guard against fatalism … There is nothing impossible about the challenges we face… Social transformation can only happen if we work together. We have to be that change. Otherwise, the planetary system will make changes for us.”
Afterwards we all carried on the conversation amongst the great stalls showcasing local projects including The Art House, Rice Up, Transition Southampton, Sustrans, West Solent Solar Coop, HIWWT and Wessex Global Health Network. Refreshments were provided with many thanks to Sunnyfields Farm located near Totton just outside Southampton. These local initiatives are leading the way with low carbon projects and increasing environmental stewardship in the Southampton area.
Stay tuned to find out about future events! The Resources and Get Involved! pages will also be updated soon.
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