“While studying for my Masters’ degree in Responsibility and Business Practise I gained a disturbing sense of the urgency of the climate crisis. Historically I had been a LibDem voter but felt moved to vote for the Green Party from around 2008 onwards. This change was motivated not only by my environmental concerns but also by my absolute opposition to renewal of our so-called nuclear ‘deterrent’, Trident. The Green Party has consistently opposed such diabolical weapons unlike Labour or the LibDems. In 2015, in order to donate and contribute towards keeping at least the 1 fantastic MP our party has in the commons, I decided to join the Green Party, although due to working away from home much of the time I was not able to get as involved as I would have liked beyond that.
Responding to the climate emergency is becoming increasingly urgent and my view is that now is not a time to leave any solutions off the table. For example, in terms of travel, COVID has taught us that there are a lot of journeys, especially in the course of our business activities, that we can reconsider the need for. That said, the need for travel and transportation is never going to go away. Where we cannot eliminate the need for transport and travel our next option is to reduce or where possible eliminate the impact of our activity. To do this (where cycling is not viable!) we need to systemically drive modal shift away from air and road towards rail to the maximum extent possible. Beyond that we need to replace a still-predominantly internal-combustion-engine powered vehicle fleet with one that eliminates CO2 emissions during manufacture, use and at end of life, and at present, electrical traction, delivered by a mix of battery storage and the use of hydrogen fuel cells, is the primary technological solution to this problem.
Transportation and travel is, of course, just one aspect of our energy consumption. We also need to meet our domestic, commercial, and industrial needs too. All this while eliminating CO2 emissions! Once again, the starting point has to be to minimise consumption to the maximum extent possible – efficient use of precious resources must always be a priority.
Over the last couple of years, it has become increasingly apparent to me that a logical rather than ideological response to the situation is needed, and for this reason began to question some of my previously held positions on a number of large-scale infrastructure projects that, if carefully delivered, could contribute significantly to the delivery and efficient use of our future energy supply.
As such my views on projects such as HS2 and Hinkley C began to change to one of cautious and qualified support. This is not to the exclusion of wind, solar and tidal power – we need a strong mix of solutions on the table and then to make scientific decisions based on facts, data and evidence about how we best use the available technologies to meet our needs and those of future generations in a sustainable way. While the Green Party is still, sadly, relatively small, our influence is increasing, and hopefully it will continue to do so. It is my belief, and thankfully I’m not the only one, that we could use the incredible wealth of talent and influence that exists within our party to guide the implementation of these projects in the most sustainable possible direction, and to hold the government robustly to account wherever we discover this is not happening.”
Neil O’Doherty – GPEW member, Somerset