Speakers' Corner: Being green – it's about improving life for all of us
Today's Speakers' Corner is written by the Green Party's Bristol mayor candidate Daniella Radice.
TWENTY, even ten years ago, many people might have found this question difficult. But times change. If, today, you ask any six-year-old, any boss of a big company, any shopper, indeed any Bristolian, what it means to be green, they can tell you.
It is about growing food on allotments, solar panels, cycling and walking to work, protecting green spaces. All things that already happen in Bristol and enable us to claim to be one of the greenest cities Britain.
All of this is important to me. But I want to take you further. I'm 38. I grew up as the world was starting to worry about running out of things: oil, copper, topsoil. I studied biology at university and worked as an environmentalist.
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The world started to worry about climate change, its causes and the effects on populations and habitats across the world. Then I had two children.
And being green now seems more important to me than ever. I am disturbed about the fact that my children are growing up in a society where what you have is seen to be more important than who you are, where many of us shop only at supermarkets, where life is difficult for anyone without a car, and where the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger every day. And care about the state of the planet and society we hand over to all our children.
As you can see, I've already moved away from the obvious green issues. Because, to me, being green involves more than just solar panels and allotments. It is about how we share resources between people.
It's about recognising that nurturing the environment and looking after people are connected.
Here are some examples. Being green means wanting Bristol to have the best possible public transport system; cheap, reliable and interconnected. Yes, this is partly because of our concerns about the long-term effects of cars on the environment. But it's also because we recognise that improving public transport will make a huge difference to the lives of many, especially women with small children and older people.
Improving public transport will not only give us cleaner air, reduce carbon emissions, and help business but also give us a fairer society. Isn't that what we all want?
Being green is also about investing in a whole range of other green projects; renewable energy schemes, home insulation, micropower generation, combined heat and power projects, and investing in appropriate training and apprenticeships to ensure we have the skilled workers for these.
Of course these projects are aimed at protecting the environment, very few now doubt the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change, but they are also about lowering energy bills, protecting ourselves against rising costs of fossil fuels, improving people's homes and providing jobs.
And a final example, being green means supporting local businesses and local producers.
Supermarkets today can bring us whatever we want, from any part of the world, whenever we want it.
But this is at great cost to the environment (think of all that transportation), decimation of local producers and ultimately consumers pay a high price.
Yes some of us can now shop at midnight or eat strawberries in November. But wouldn't it be better if every part of Bristol had small, independent, friendly shops that everyone could reach easily, where shoppers are known, and where value, quality and choice far outweigh the supermarkets offerings. If we want a healthier fairer Bristol this is the way forward.
And all this (and much more) is achievable. Because being green means thinking harder than we have ever done in the past about how income is shared, and how we raise money to fund what is important.
Economists tell us that more equal societies are economically stronger. So I believe rich people should be taxed more, that the vast amounts of money being paid to bankers is harmful to economic stability, and that the living wage campaign has got it right.
And I believe we have to be more creative in thinking about funding. The Bristol pound, Green bonds, local investment banks... yes it can be done, as other cities have shown.
I'll leave you with one last thought. Being green is about saying that material consumption is not what our short lives on this planet are all about.
It's about supporting caring and carers, it's about valuing all those who create joy through art and music and sport, it's about celebrating the diversity of Bristol and above all it's about ensuring we all have a say in the future of Bristol.
It's about making sure our city is not only green but also a place where all can enjoy life.