What got you involved in climate activism?
Well, I made the link between human rights and climate change and then I thought OK I really need to do something about this because this is going to affect lots of different people in many different ways. And then I think got involved in the direct action side of things because I guess partly because that’s the sort of activism I saw around me and the people that were actually doing anything about it were doing it in those terms there wasn’t really any lobbying to get involved with or anything like that, it was all just high-profile media stunts that were doing something and I thought they were worthwhile doing, getting in people’s minds so that’s why I got involved.
What groups were you involved in?
Climate change was MCA. I have been to Climate Camp though I wouldn’t necessarily say I was part of it because I never helped to organise. I’d say the same thing about Plane Stupid, I’ve taken part in things but I’m not part of them. What else is there? People and Planet. The Student Sustainability Forum.
How long were you involved?
What kept you involved?
The problem hasn’t gone away! I guess. I think there is still so much to do but then I don’t feel that disheartened about it because there are still people working on it, people who are passionate about it, so I that’s why I stayed with it.
Would you say that you haven’t necessarily stopped doing climate action?
Well, other things are taking more of my time. And last year I facilitated a lot less but it’s still something that’s always on my radar and something that I always strive to do things on in different capacities but I think because of the Tory cuts and everything that was going on last year with higher education funding, I didn’t have time to really do that much to promote that but I consumed pretty much all the time.
Other than other issues taking up your time, were there other factors that were a part of you spending less time on climate stuff, in terms of groups and more internal factors?
Yes I think partly a loss of momentum in certain groups. So despite being quite busy with other things, if there was something coming up that I could just rock up to on the day and help out and do that as well, but it has felt that there has been a decline in actions that have been happening, and events that have been put on as well. And I stopped going to meetings because of lack of time, but I still understand that it does just feel like there is a lack of energy around it, so people can’t be arsed to… not can’t be arsed … like people just haven’t got the time to organise them, or haven’t got the energy so nothings really been happening in terms of that. Also losing the national support network that was Climate Camp was an issue as well. Having those larger national things to get involved with, because then it’s easier to motivate people around an action, you don’t have to organise from scratch, someone else is also taking a massive part in it, and just trying to mobilise people within your community to help out
What would it take to get you more involved gain?
I guess finding more time is one thing. So that I can help organise actions that are around climate change because it’s easy to say no-one else is doing it and I’m just waiting around for other people to do it, but actually I should be taking some responsibility for it as well but it’s just hard to find the time for it. Also having an open process is important but at the same time a core of people come who have the time to organise, who don’t just come to feed in ideas but actually come to take on responsibilities and actions for the group, and actually follow through on those actions as well because it can be really demoralising otherwise. So you feel like you are actually getting somewhere. What else? I guess it’s just the excitement around it, I think that’s lacking, some really enthusiastic people being like right, ok this is going on this is how we’re going to solve it, this is how we’re going to get in the media and making it fun as well, otherwise its a bit of a drag!
In your opinion, what should climate activist in Greater Manchester be doing now?
I think partly it’s reinvigorating the groups that they are in already, or forming a different groups if that has sort of died, of people that we know are sound, that we know would be a great team to work with. And then getting it back into people’s radar, so doing some high-profile actions, or some big events, that will get people talking about climate change again. And when we see things like that happening you think oh well this group is doing something that is actually worthwhile going to and getting involved, I think that’s part of it. We also need to get them just, recruiting more I guess. Like partly you have to do that by showing people that you are doing something in the first place, but also I do think that we need to open up our spheres to talking to the community a lot more, like I know that MCA have got no new students and there are 40,000 that they could be tapping into, who are all keen on green issues. I think that’s one way of reinvigorating groups.
I think one thing that we need to be wary of is just offering things like training, because I think training is important, but if you’re not going to use the training then there is no point in the end. I feel like we’ve got quite stuck in training people up and then not using those skills afterwards.
Anything else you want to say?
I’d like to see more things going on, partly in the student body as well; it’s hard to motivate people. So people who are involved in cuts stuff for example, and no-one is really doing that much on climate change and sustainability (although we’re trying). I guess I hope people re-find what was motivating them to get involved in the first place, and also people that don’t know about climate change, inform people about climate change and get them to do things around it as well. Because the problem hasn’t gone away, it just seems that there are more obvious problems that are going around at the moment around society, other things that are taking up everyone’s time, and no-one is really looking at the sustainable future that we need as well. Because climate is old news apparently!
It’s just so old; no one is really talking about it. And even if people are anti-Tory and want to do things against the Tories, the Tories have gone back on a million things that they said they would do, so you could rally around that as well. Or you could rally around green jobs, or there are a million and one things that you could link into struggles that are already going on at the moment. And maybe that’s what groups need to do; look at the wider picture of cuts and say this is where people’s interests are at the moment, how do we fit into this? And then change the rhetoric around it to keep it up to date with what is going on. I guess also thinking of new tactics as well, I think quite rightly climate camp thought OK we’ve done the camp thing enough and we need move onto other things, but we haven’t seen quite what that means yet but people seem quite keen on, you know on a Saturday going to shut down a load of shops, like UK Uncut style, so could we just do something like that, you know just go and raid RBS for an afternoon or something like that, and you can still link it in with these fuckers took loads of money from us with the bailout but look what they are spending it on. I think linking it with the banks would actually be really important because that’s how it’s all funded anyway. The bastards!