It is that time of lights in the darkness. There is a photo of me waving a Green Party banner saying ‘Go Solar Not Ballistic’ at a Stop the War March in London 2003. I am sleepless, recovering from flu and lit with determination. Luckily the photo is not digital so I can’t share it with you. It seemed the world was there; millions of people, every creed, every skin colour, every generation linked by values of fairness, justice, peace-seeking. To my mind the problem and the will to go to war was both a social and environmental problem. Human rights, dignity, honesty and the value of life were and are linked with how we guard the planet, share and manage resources.
I recently attended a meeting hosted by Green MP, Caroline Lucas in the Houses of Parliament entitled ‘the sharing economy’. While there are those who say there is no alternative to the present system, we say that system is broken. Einstein said you cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it. Green economic policies include fighting austerity measures and saying no to public service cuts, instead protecting the NHS and education, changing from minimum wage to a fair living wage and increasing jobs and investment in areas such as green technologies and transport. We believe money should be saved and created by cracking down on tax havens and tax dodging by the biggest corporations and the very richest people, amounting to billions of pounds, to cancel unnecessary road building, costing 3 billion a year, address the billions we spend on unjust and unnecessary wars and outmoded weapons, introduce better regulation of banks and other financial industries. To the Green Party the savings that can bolster our economy should be made, not by hitting the most vulnerable, but by looking at priorities and making lasting, value-based change.
It is the time of year for so many festivals of light started across cultures, across times. A season of re-dedication to peace, friendship and light and the sense we are all branches of one world tree. This is seen in the lighting of candles, kisses under mistletoe lights of the Christmas tree and the branches of the Menorah at Chanukah and so many other traditions reaching back through eons. In part of my own tradition, there is a story that in first peace after a long war the lights were kindled from the only unspoiled olive oil they thought would not last but did for the time it took to make more. Now, in a time where lack is something many are increasingly concerned about, this meeting of social and environmental need again shows paths to solutions. Talk of responsible resource management, sharing economy and energy policy can seem abstract but they are real and workable in small and huge ways. Solar powered sun-jars and fairy-lights add festive shine without depleting bank accounts or fossil fuels or adding to conflicts fueled by oil shortages. Fuel poverty is rising with depleting reserves of fossil fuels and rising prices. Food and living costs rise too with a fossil fuel focused energy policy and the economy suffers. The Green Party policies are decrease demand for from non-renewable fossil fuels and to make energy generation more local, with more local control, less wastage and increasing efficiency. Renewable energies work best in localised systems where it is more efficient, can come from combined sources – hydro, wind, solar etc and gives more power to communities and individuals. Natural resource use, energy and economic policy meet illustrated by sunjar and solar fairy lights.
At the moment the general state of affairs seems to be unaccountable accounting systems with public service cuts and people suffering with more investment in wars than ways forward and those that can afford most often contributing least. Green choices for many seem a luxury yet green policies can help with the affordability of good standards of living. Green Party energy policies and economics of sharing are those that look at social needs, human rights, resource and money management and accountability. So, at this time of year, where we seek our hope, I find some of mine in a sunjar and fairy-lights, in the meeting hosted by Green MP Caroline Lucas in Westminster on the sharing economy and on a meeting with East Midlands Green Party media team in the house of the woman I hope to be the next MEP for the region. So to close, I welcome you again to this blog and I offer this image of a possible path lit up before us, lit with renewable energy: