Saturday, 15 May 2010

Vision for a sustainable Brighton and Hove

I've nearly finished working through all the piles of paper - and replyimng to all the tweets' and emails - generated during the general election campaign.

I've been deleting, recycling or throwing most of it away. But I just came across a few notes I made ahead of a hustings meeting organised by the STEPS centre at the University of Sussex's Social Policy Research Unit and held at Brighton's Jubilee Library - and I thought I'd post them here for posterity.

So, here goes: in less than two minutes, here's my vision for a sustainable Brighton and Hove:

Clearly we're interested in a geniunely joined-up approach: we dopn't think sustainability is just about low carbon (although that's clearly a necessary component); we don't think sustainability is just about low carbon, protection for biodiversity, low resource use and zero carbon either: there's a fundamentally human dimension too, about health, wellbeing, equality and community too.

We think you can't have sustainability in one country (let alone one city!) - or at one time - the concept requires global justice and justice between generations too.

On the local level that means:

1. Tackling environmental and health inequalities - eg making it easier and safer to walk and cycle (which is also low carbon). This may mean restoring and supporting suburban facilities, including shops, to reduce car dependence (that's one of the reasons we're not at all as relaxed about large, centrally-located, supermarkets as local Tories). Local shops tend to employ more people than supermarkets, pay them more, and generate less carbon per employee too!

Green Party policies for investment in the very services and technologies needed to reduce our carbon emissions and cut our energy consumption and fuel bills would, it has been estimated, create about 4,000 new jobs in Brighton and Hove alone.

2. Enhancing - and making more affordable - facilities, such as New England House, for small and start-up businesses in the digital and environmental industries, as well as supporting centres, such as Community base, for third sector organisations.

3. Changing the way we view the planning process to allow environmental improvements (eg installation of renewable micro-generation technology, insulation etc) to all homes and public spaces in the city: creating jobs and reducing the city's carbon footprint.

But that's just Brighton and Hove.

Greens are internationalist by nature. We beleive our place in the world  is made more secure when the world's social and environmental problems are being solbved by successful international relations based on global co-operation.

And that means increasing financial support to the poorest in the world - as well as channelling it through new international institutions designed to democratise th way aid and development assistance is spent.

If you're interested in the debate, a webcast of the whole two-hour meeting is available to watch here.

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