Sutton Coldfield Quaker meeting house was full on 22 November for a meeting with local MP, Andrew Mitchell, on climate change and the upcoming UN COP24 climate conference in Poland. The meeting was arranged by Sutton Coldfield Quakers and attended by people from local churches, Eco Sutton group and the wider local community.
Andrew Mitchell, a former Overseas Development Minister, began by giving examples from West Indies, Sudan, Rwanda, and Bangladesh of how the world’s poor are paying the immediate cost of climate change. He then outlined his general approach as MP for the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, a constituency that has one of the highest levels of car ownership in the UK.
Andrew said that the UK Government gave billions to mitigate climate change around the world. A particular goal was to help people lead meaningful lives where they lived and not feel the need to migrate north. He felt the biggest global threat to maintaining a priority on climate change is the tension in the USA-China axis.
Brexit, however, was currently dominating the Parliamentary agenda and there had been very little recent attention to climate change or COP24. He shared, though, a technical statement of support for COP24 and commitment to the Paris agreement and the procedures.
At a more personal level Andrew Mitchell said he thought we would probably be the last generation who eat meat the way we do and that that he values the diverse faith communities that are a feature both of the “Royal Town” and of Birmingham.
The conclusions that Sutton Coldfield Quakers drew from the meeting included how Andrew Mitchell was keen to listen to constituents and is sympathetic to environmental and climate issues. When challenged on a number of fronts, including fracking, he responded clearly with reasons whether in disagreement or otherwise. He is also a pragmatic politician who works with the tension of what is ideal and what he sees as realistic.
Following the event, Andrew said:
“It is always a pleasure to meet the many different groups which exist in our Royal Town.”