Opinion: Why Lib Dems should go on the National Climate March (6th Dec)

What happens to the fight against global warming in a time of economic crisis? Lib Dems know that it must be fought as strongly as ever. However, there are those who will say that economic recovery must be the top priority and that other causes, however worthy, must take a backseat – for example, some politicians and representatives of companies whose interests are threatened by the battle against global warming who will be only too happy to encourage that type of thinking. They should not be allowed to succeed.

We should not let the need to tackle economic troubles take away an ounce of energy from fighting the most important battle of the 21st century. Like Barack Obama – who refused to cancel a presidential debate on foreign policy because of the economic crisis – we should aim to do more than one thing at a time. Indeed, tackling the waste of energy and other resources, on a national and personal level, has economic advantages that are perhaps easier to appreciate now than in the times of easy money Investment in green technology, and the creation of jobs in renewable energy industries, can contribute towards a stronger, more balanced economic future. In order to thrive in the 21st century, Britain needs to become a home of research and innovation. The current financial crisis has exposed the weakness of an economy so heavily dependent on the City.

There are many ways to remind people that the fight against global warming has lost none of its urgency, and to warn the government that people still want action on climate change to be at the top of the political agenda.

One way to do this will be the National Climate March on the 6th December this year, in central London. It will be part of a global action day, which will involve people in more than 70 countries, to coincide with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention in Poznan, Poland.

The themes of the march will include the familiar ones of continuing opposition to the Kingsnorth and other new coal power stations, to Airport Expansion, and to the dangerous development of agro-fuels. However, this year’s march will focus particularly on the need for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, low carbon transport and more green jobs.

At the last Campaign against Climate Change March in December of 2007 Chris Huhne spoke. This year I hear that Nick Clegg may be speaking. Whether he does or doesn’t, that should not stop local parties and individual party members from getting involved.

Local Lib Dem parties can spread the word about the Climate Change March through their newsletters and websites. They can use the occasion to meet and discuss their own green aims and targets. Local parties can organise groups to come to London on the march. In doing so we will not only be helping to build support for the march and renewing our own commitment to tackling climate change but also making others aware of our own commitment to the fight against global warming

There is also a real political purpose in doing so. Lib Dems are often frustrated at the number of people who, particularly at local elections, see the Green party as the sensible green alternative to Labour or the Conservatives. We are often disappointed that our pioneering green agenda is too little appreciated. This may be unfair. But, unfair or not, it is something that Lib Dems need to address.

If we are going to thrive at a time of dwindling party membership and voter apathy, Lib Dems must be more than just another party: we must become a movement. If we are to be a movement we need to be part of many movements: climate change, civil liberties, reform. We need to work together with those of different political parties and those outside party politics altogether. Supporting the March on December 6th is a great way to do it.

To find out further details about the March and other campaign against climate change events go to www.campaigncc.org.

* Daniel Jones is a Liberal Democrat party member in Islington.

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