Interview with RR in ‘The Crab Line’

The interview below is reproduced from The Crab Line, North Norfolk newspaper of distinction — to see the original, goto p.12 of

It May Well Be Two Years Away

Rupert became a Norwich City Councillor in 2004, representing Wensum ward, and was re-elected in 2007 with 49% of the vote. Rupert serves on the Joint Highways Committee of the City and County Councils, where he is a strong advocate of Norwich Green Party’s Transport Policy. He is the Green Party’s representative on Norwich Peace Council and has been a prime active opponent of the Government’s aggressive foreign policy. Rupert is also the spokesperson on Transport for the Green Party City Councillors.

Naturally Rupert has a great deal of groundwork to get his name out to the wider Norfolk community and to get his message out for people like you and I to end up voting for him, as MEP.
How Rupert are you going to do this?

I’ve always been a campaigner, and the Green Party is thriving all over the East of England because we campaign so extensively on local issues. People now see the advantages of having Green representatives in their city halls, district councils and parishes. We help block plans for new incinerators and unwanted supermarkets and we encourage greener and more socially responsible planning. But there are other wider issues that need addressing too; issues such as fair trade, international conflict and dangerous climate change; issues that ultimately can only be fully addressed at an international level. My message is that just as more and more communities are enjoying the benefits of Green representatives in local government, Norfolk could soon enjoy a Green representative in the European Parliament (By the way: since 1999 there has not been a single MEP who actually lives in Norfolk. I hope to change that!). Over the next two years I’ll be working hard to raise the profile of so many important campaigns and speaking out with those involved in important local projects, but also those who want to see similar change at the European level. I’ll be outlining ways in which better policies in
Europe will create a better life for those of us here in the East of England.

Rupert, we now live in a society that rabbits on and on about such issues as global warming and every time we fly anywhere or step into our 4 x 4 we are seen a environment criminals and feel guilty. What are we supposed to do, bearing in mind that the USA are still selling cars with 7,000cc engines and do not seem to care, while the Republic of China is hell bent on out polluting the rest of the world. What is the point in even starting to be more green and friendly against these international problems or do we simple let global warming just happen and start all over again in a couple of hundred years hopefully having learnt something ?

With the fight against dangerous climate change every individual and every community has to take responsibility. Unlike other global threats, such as nuclear proliferation and human rights abuses, we are all a part of the problem, and we all have to play our part in solving it. But that doesn’t mean we should have to take on the full burden of a 90% cut in emissions or else suffer with the guilt. We need government support at international, national and local level, to make these cuts realistic. Why should a parent with young children feel bad about driving their family into town when the public transport is so appalling, or a low income homeowner feel bad about the amount of gas he burns when he can’t afford proper insulation. Green politics means putting in place decent public transport, and subsidizing decent homes and proper insulation, to make it easier for us all to do the right thing. I am not denying that the carbon reductions we need to make is one of the greatest challenges we will ever face, but with a strong political will and a real set of initiatives it is all possible. And there is no greater evidence of this than in places like
China and the USA. Dozens of American mayors and States have signed up to the Kyoto protocol, and the country is pioneering all sorts of technology crucial to reducing our emissions. China is in the middle of building the world’s first carbon-neutral city. I remain confident that we can avoid the worst effects of climate change. But every one of us must make the make the available changes in our own lifestyle while demanding from politicians the right framework to help us all with the rest.

It has been said that during the 1980’s and 1990’s we became very much a “me me society” how does one get across any important issue, outside of the selfish attitude most of our society has embarrassed?

By showing people that change isn’t about sacrificing an old way of life, it’s about gaining a much better one. For example where the issue is massive over-consumerism, we shouldn’t talk of having to consume less, we should talk of consuming and enjoying better. The organic food market is booming right now. Part of this is due to concern with the environmental impacts of regular farming methods, but a lot of it is due to the realisation that local and organic food is healthier, tastier and offers a better quality of life. There are still many people who view it as their right to drive an oversized car and therefore they shall, and no amount of protest will stop them. These people have simply been swallowed by the prevailing culture of material possession. But the winds are changing; for the first time since their introduction, sales of SUVs are going down – big cars are becoming less ‘cool’. And people are realizing that smaller cars are easier to park and guzzle less petrol; or that cycling keeps you really healthy. I know I’m oversimplifying, and there’s much about out society that’s still moving in the wrong direction. But the roots of change are there and the proof is all over the mainstream media, with ethical brands and sustainable products now leading the trends.

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