Tuesday 19th February saw over 70 people join us for our public meeting Energy we can all afford, as part of University of Birmingham People and Planet’s fantastic Go Green Week. The event was part of the national campaign Clean British Energy and the Energy Bill Revolution public meetings and involved a great panel of experts. These were: Rosemary Coyne a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Lorraine Gumbs from Warm Zones, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth and Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe. Add to this Graeme Brown from the Birmingham Post as chair and everyone was treated to some extremely informative discussion on a broad range of energy policy.

Our guests started waltzing in fantastically large numbers shortly before 7pm. They were able to enjoy the national Friends of the Earth photo exhibition that were installed by our volunteers. The pictures were of inspiring examples of reneweble energy generation in the UK. At around 7.15 when everyone had taken their seats, Alice Swift from University of Birmingham People & Planet let everyone know about the other amazing events that were going on as part of their go green week. This was followed by me (Jake) giving a brief introduction, and going over some formalities before the show could begin.

Graeme Brown, the chair for the evening, introduced our panellists to the audience and explained the format of the night. This being that each panelist would answer the question “If you could make one change to current energy policy, locally or nationally. What would it be and why?” with it being opened up for audience participation afterwards.

All the panelists gave really informative answers and spoke with passion on the subjects thay talked about. There was also a great variety in the answers. Rosemary and Lorraine looked at fuel poverty, with Rosemary concerntrating on local projects, and Lorraine expressing that more govermental funding needs to be made available and more needs to be done to keep energy bill costs from continuing to rise.

Guy and Steve focused on the political side of the story with regards to the Energy Bill. Both of them initially stating that a decarbonsisation target was needed in the energy bill. With Guy then branching out to talk about the UK’s renewable resources such as; offshore wind, wave and tidal. Then Steve talked more the need for the energy market to be more competitive (99% households energy are provided by the big 6 energy companies).

We then got to the discussion part of the evening. We were lucky to have some knowledgeable audience memebers including lecturers form the different Birmingham Universities, as well as extremely passionate students and community activists. This vibrant mix led to some thoroughly interesting topics of discussion. Some highlights were lengthy discussion about the issues surrounding the Green Deal, and Guy talking about the Energy Bill Revolution Campaign, which is calling for carbon taxes to be used home energy efficiency measures to combat fuel poverty. An idea to which the other panellists seemed sympathetic. We will be posting a much more lenghy article soon, with pictures, detailed panelist answers, discussion transcript and a video recording of the night.

After the discussion the panelists made their closing remarks with Graeme Brown thanking everyone involved for making it into such a great discussion. All in all we are extremely pleased with how the night turned out. To have over 70 people come to an event to discuss a topic normally percieved as boring is incredible and a big thank you has to made to all the volunteers who have helped out. Another massive thanks to Rosemary, Guy, Lorraine, Steve and Graeme. Also a special thanks to Alice Swift and Thomas Wragg from People & Planet for all the hard work they put in and for the excellent job they have done with their Go Green Week.

We hope that the event helped people understand what a crucial time it is for energy and specifically the Energy Bill. If it inspired any of you to join in with lobbying your MP’s to support a decarbonsiation target, or any other energy campaigns, then get in contact at: jacob@birminghamfoe.org.uk