3 steps the UK Government must take now Parliament has voted to declare a Climate Emergency

Yesterday, 1st May 2019, the UK Parliament became the first in the world to pass a motion declaring an  “environment and climate emergency”.

This is largely a symbolic measure but let’s not doubt he enormous importance of this unexpected move. All credit to opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for initiating the motion (Labour traditionally has not been the most environmentally aware party) and to Michael Gove (Conservative, Secretary of State for Environment) for meeting members of the Extinction Rebellion movement, who so very recently staged mass protests in London. [I’m an active Green Party member myself]

Time will tell whether or not there is anything more than greenwash in the government acceptance of the vote, but I believe they will be held to account if too little progress is made.

We are now being told what we can do to help limit climate change, and this is quite right. However they must not just say “over to you” and put all the responsibility on us. My concern right now that the government legislates, enables, and does not stand in the way of the necessary actions. Here are my most important points, that I believe the government must tackle:

  • Energy: reverse their ban on subsidies for new onshore wind projects; bring back incentives for builders and householders to install solar pv and other renewable energy; start a nationwide large-scale push to retrofit our poorest housing stock with high standard insulation and double glazing (thereby also improving health and living conditions)
  • Trees: initiate a massive tree-planting programme, using native trees for maximum carbon capture, bringing together expertise from organisations such as the Woodland Trust
  • Fossil fuels: move as far away as possible from fossil fuels, starting with revoking and rejecting any plans for more coal mines; ban any fracking of oil/gas wells, which are carbon producers as well as being a risk to our geology, landscapes, health and water supply

So that’s a start. Time for the government to put its money where its mouth is.

 

Photo credit: Victoria Hulatt, banner created by Victoria Hulatt and Jenny Cole, taken at Extinction Rebellion in London

Diana Morgan is a freelance blog post writer and eco-retailer. Having been concerned about the environment since her teens, she is one of a team of climate ambassadors for the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

 

 

 

Strawberries

Strawberry and raspberry Pavlova

Strawberry and raspberry Pavlova

Strawberries. Everybody loves strawberries. Or do they? As a small child I didn’t like them. I can’t even remember why; I don’t believe it was the sharpness that ideally comes along with the sweetness because I loved damson jam, a regular feature of my Northern upbringing, for instance.

Then when I was about eight I was playing at a friend’s house when I was offered a bowl of strawberries. This was clearly intended as a great treat; it was after all the 1960s, with a much shorter growing season and few, if any, imports of soft fruit. I didn’t feel able to decline so I accepted a bowl and experienced a flavour explosion – what a revelation! From now on I DID love strawberries.

Except … I fell out of love with them for a while as my tastes expanded to take in raspberries (I don’t remember ever having them as a child), plums, damsons in crumbles, and foreign exotica such as peaches, nectarines, and apricots, although the latter are usually better cooked, as even the ripe fruit often disappoints when raw. Strawberries became less attractive with the rise of supermarket standardisation and refrigeration, the ubiquitous almost tasteless Elsanta variety, imports, and the much longer growing season, which made them less of a rare treat. And being environmentally aware, the food miles issue, high water inputs, the rise of pesticides & fungicides, and the visual pollution of acres of polytunnels were of great concern to me.

Yet much has happened to make me fall back in love with the strawberry in the last few years. Customers are demanding more flavour, and at least some producers have responded. Farmers markets are a good source of local, seasonal produce. Nowadays I will enjoy strawberries three or four times in the traditional season (yes, around Wimbledon!). This means, for me, eaten plain, or with lashings of double cream (NOT single, NOT whipped, NOT clotted, and definitely NOT from a spray can!) or maybe on a Pavlova or in an Eton Mess (although I prefer raspberries in that).

Newer ideas for bringing out the flavour or combining swith other ingredients are fascinating, such as with freshly milled black pepper, marinated in balsamic vinegar, or cooked with rhubarb, but I don’t feel the urge to try them. When it comes down to it, English strawberries at the height of their season, as un- messed-about-with as possible, is hard to beat!

 

Photo: (c) Diana Morgan. Taken at the Garden Museum in London at a recent day course on food writing with Diana Henry, organised by Mark Diacono of Otter Farm.

This post is based on a piece I wrote on the course.