Hampstead Norreys is one of those communities that works. Community spirit seems to pervade the village with its thriving pub, church, its OFSTED rated “outstanding” school and of course its community owned village shop that recently was awarded the “best rural shop in Britain”.
Last weekend they held an extraordinary event called Greenfest which brought together people from across West Berkshire to see what we can do individually and collectively to live more sustainable lives.
There were talks from legends like the climate scientist Sir Brian Hoskins. He was a member of the Committee on Climate Change. This is the body set up under the Climate Change Act to instruct Governments on what measures they need to take to achieve their carbon targets. I first heard him talk at The Royal Society and he holds me spellbound every time. Many other clever ideas and social enterprises were there to show how we can live in harmony with the natural world and reduce our impact on climate change.
I took part in a panel discussion when perhaps the only jarring note of the day was heard. I strongly believe that whilst there is a “climate emergency” and all the risks of a changing climate need to be taken seriously and urgently, we can win this. Some speakers seemed to suggest that nothing is being done and anyway if it was it’s probably too late. Both are wrong. The UK is a world leader, in some areas the world leader, in tackling climate change. Yes, more needs to be done but relentless negativity risks turning people away from the support they naturally feel for policies which keep the UK leading the way. One speaker even suggested that the £millions of overseas aid that we spend on helping other countries decarbonise their economies was a waste. The UK is responsible for around 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If, as was suggested, we just concentrate on the UK it really will be too late for our planet.
Greenfest was a wonderful event. It lifted my spirits at the end of quite a week.