Headlines: November 27th, 2006



Local councils are showing the leadership and vision that is needed to improve local environments, according to the Director of the New Local Government Network. Chris Leslie was speaking after the International development Secretary, Hilary Benn, called for a new type of politics to tackle climate change.

Mr. Leslie said that improving the quality of the environment and tackling climate change had to begin at local level. “With examples such as recycling or micro-generation local councils are demonstrating the vision and leadership required to make real improvements to the lives of local environments,” he said, adding that Hilary Benn’s comments indicated that citizen activism should be at the heart of the government’s agenda in creating a better environment for everyone.

Mr. Benn told a conference organised by the NLGN that Britain needed a generation of environmental and political campaigners to tackle climate change. Politics, he said, could not be only about voting or signing petitions but also about people taking action in their personal lives. He said public concern about the environment was six times higher than it was in 2003 and the environment movement was gathering pace that could make it as successful as the Make Poverty History campaign of 2005.

“Make Poverty History and climate change are both rooted in global justice. But tackling climate change is a local issue too. Because as well as political pressure, it’s about us changing the way we live. It’s about putting politics at the heart of everything we do. Not an old kind of politics, limited to voting. A new kind of politics that informs how we live,” he said.

Political power, he said, was something people lent to politicians and the more that politicians shared power with people, the more power everyone would have to get things done.