Local press items

Gloucestershire Citizen, October 2017. Letter – the Big Shift campaign on savings, by Noel Sharp

Working for Christian Aid I get to hear and tell a lot of stories about individuals from around the world. I hear how Alivio Aruquipa has been affected by changing water supply from the Andean glaciers in Bolivia. I hear how Selina Begum has been affected by groundwater being salinized up to 100km inland in Bangladesh. I hear how Monica Kilindi in east Kenya used to survive on crops from a small plot of land, but the rains have dried up. All these real individuals and their families are being affected by climate change. Those who have contributed least to the rise in global temperatures are often those most affected.

At Christian Aid we do our best to be climate-wise, to help people adapt, and we’re doing a fine job, but as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the task becomes impossible. We need to deal with the issue at its source and stop investing in fossil fuel industries. The high street banks are still using savers’ money to support fossil fuel companies, even though governments, scientists and even the banks themselves are in agreement that we need to move away from coal, oil and gas to protect our planet.

In the Big Shift Campaign, local campaigners from around the country are visiting banks to urge them to stop using the public’s hard-earned savings to support polluting fossil fuel companies. They are presenting messages from the community explaining why the bank needs to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Fossil fuels are increasingly a financial risk too. As governments and markets around the world act to reduce carbon emissions, the value of fossil fuel companies could decrease rapidly. The fossil fuel divestment movement has already mobilised $5 trillion away from oil, coal and gas developments. With a shift in policies and investment decisions, the high street banks could provide the capital needed to invest in the energy systems we need for the future instead of damaging the planet.

I want the money in my bank and in my pension fund (such as it is!) to be put to beneficial use. It is not unreasonable. I expect you do too. I want to be part of the Big Shift for all our sakes, but critically for the sake of people at the raw end, like Alivio, Selina and Monica.

Noel Sharp

Regional Co-ordinator for Christian Aid in Gloucestershire


Stroud News, 14 Aug 2017

Break Use of Fossil Fuels


Swansea tidal lagoon

Letter Stop Dithering SNJ 14Aug17

Gloucester Citizen, July 2017

Nuclear power

View in pdf format: nuclear power




Gloucester Citizen, 20 July 2017

Tidal lagoon power

View in pdf format – tidal lagoon


Gloucester Citizen, July 2017

Tenth anniversary of the floods in Gloucestershire

Heavy rainfall events are expected to occur more under climate change and may have played a part in the Gloucestershire floods.

flood thanks gloucestershire-001Stroud News and Journal, 3 May 2017

Reader’s Letter: Reduce carbon

Letter SNJ 3 May 2017 Reduce carbon



Stroud News and Journal, 24 March 2017

Reader’s Letter:  Excellent effort noted

The Archway, Paganhill, Stroud

 JUST reading Rachel Beckett’s latest jottings in ‘An Alternative View’ (March 8, 2017), I was struck by just how much excellent effort is already being applied in Stroud.
Nevertheless, looking carefully at the history of slavery, it was my understanding that the Archway in Paganhill is representative of the specific political struggle that went on in this area. According to Stroud’s Preservation Trust, they built it in 1834 as a grand entrance to a mansion owned by Henry Wyatt, a wealthy local businessman associated with the Stroud Anti-Slavery Society.
Switching to the present and deliberations on windfarms and local heroes, it is also worthwhile mentioning the excellent actions by SDC including insulating homes and the recycling of food waste, as well as the enterprising approaches by Ecotricity to promote renewable energy, and the much smaller but nevertheless important campaigning work by groups like Transition Stroud and Gloscan.org. My appeal, In trying to imagine a good future for Stroud is to look beyond individual heroes and try to find a workable nexus that ties together the actions by civil society organisations, the private sector and the local authorities.
The deep concern about climate change began in earnest way back in the 1980s, if not before. It’s now a generation later that. There is a need to move on from awareness-raising efforts to unashamed action, across the board.
Dr Nick James



Stroud News and Journal, 11 March 2017

Reader’s Letter: We all need to be leaders of effort to fight climate change before it’s too late

SNJ columnist Rachel Beckett argued that anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce can inspire us to solve complex modern day problems.

William Wilberforce

Picture by kind permission of the master and fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

THERE is much truth in Rachel Beckett’s Opinion page article on the importance of climate change (page 48 SNJ, March 8).

Yes, we are at the point where human induced carbonisation has reached a level where its damaging effects include melting ice caps, warming oceans, turbulent weather patterns and a decline in many wild life species.

To put some figures on this – according to NASA land based ice is diminishing at 216 billion tons per year; the world’s oceans are acidifying as they absorb two billion tons of carbon dioxide; the world has seen 10 of the warmest years ever over the last 12 years – producing drought, flash floods and severe weather partly due to world temperature rising 1. 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880.

These are extraordinary very concerning figures and we need to take even more action than we currently are.

Rachel identifies that “when things aren’t right a hero” such as William Wilberforce the slavery reformer is needed.

I would go further – we need all in our community to do what they can, in the circumstances they are in to make their contribution.

Transition Stroud – “Inspiring action for a more sustainable future” is there to help and support individuals and groups – and where necessary provide the skills and funding to develop community initiatives addressing climate change.

Let me give some examples.

Transition Stroud is working in partnership with the Quakers to develop a “Transition Streets initiative” to work with small groups to look at each individual’s carbon footprint – and how it might be reduced; or the repair café we run to reduce landfill by fixing things.

Or addressing the issue of plastic – learning what the devastating effects are and how we can reduce our use of plastic – see Stroud’s Living Without Plastic blog pfree.co.uk A friend said “for me climate change is the only issue in that it affects all others”.

All of us need to be leaders to do what we can.

Transition Stroud can help provide a framework of support and disseminate positive initiatives.

Do join us – admin@transitionstroud.org

Erik Wilkinson

Voluntary director at Transition Stroud


Stroud News and Journal, 8 March 2017

An alternative view with Rachel Beckett: Looking at past heroes can help us plan a better future

Rachel Beckett
Rachel Beckett


Columnist Rachel Beckett is a Stroud-based writer and thinker who is concerned about making the world a better place.

An author, publisher and mother, Rachel will be sharing her thoughts with readers every month.
BY GEORGE, it’s time to think differently!

I have recently been reading the diary of the novelist and wit Fanny Burney. It reveals fascinating details about the late 18th century – a time beloved by all writers of period costume dramas.

Among other colourful details and anecdotes, Fanny gives an intimate insight into the character of George III, who seems to have been good humoured and rather likeable, though living in an age of inequality and crazy protocols.

I was amused at George’s remark that reading Shakespeare could be heavy going “only one must not say so”, because “it’s Shakespeare, and nobody dare abuse him”.

He wouldn’t have made it as a professor of literature, that’s for sure! But what’s interesting is that he was questioning accepted assumptions – a useful, and at times alienating, thing to do. Perhaps this hints at why he went mad in later life.

At precisely this time, the newly fledged industrial revolution was in full swing. It had already initiated a thickening in the blanket of atmospheric carbon around the Earth. This has inexorably continued to a level unprecedented over millions of years.

Flagged up by scientists for over a century, human-induced carbonisation has now reached a level where its damaging effects include melting ice caps, warming oceans, turbulent weather patterns and the decline of many wildlife species.

Yet there is a prevalent assumption, fed to us through entertainment, advertising and the media, that business as usual must continue at any price.

Consumerism has become another inalienable national institution. But unlike Shakespeare, it does little for our cultural and spiritual welfare.

When things aren’t right we need a hero, and again I think of an 18th-century figure, the slavery reformer William Wilberforce.

Atmospheric carbonisation has been likened to a modern equivalent of slavery – it has arisen for complex reasons and is hard to solve because of vested interests and cultural norms.

Wilberforce strove to bring about a seismic shift in thinking, but it took him decades – slavery was finally abolished in 1833, just days before his death.

Our ailing climate has been under discussion for decades too. The time is ripe for a serious push to set our industry and economy on a different course.

This doesn’t necessarily mean more wind farms. We could push for a regulation to fit all new-build houses with photovoltaic panels. Everyone’s ideas and values are important and we must all play a part.

Today’s local heroes can help us. For example, Stroud-based Polly Higgins has set up the Eradicating Ecocide campaign, pushing for legislation to ensure corporations work within a framework of environmental respect.

And our current Prince of Wales, like his ancestor George III, dares to question received norms – but with rather more focus. His Ladybird book Climate Change, written with Tony Juniper and Emily Shuckburgh, is a modest but most useful guide.

Perhaps the perfect springboard for planning a personal response to this problem, it is, I am told, an excellent read – and much easier than Shakespeare.