AGM Minutes, & Local COP26 Global Day of Action activity in Bedfordshire

COP26 demonstrators in Luton on the Global Day of Action

We were pleased that Beds people took part in some Global Day of Action activities, including a march and ‘die in’ in Luton and Bedford’s monthly Critical Mass Cycle Ride had a COP26 theme

Find below the Minutes of BCCF’s AGM on 8 October 2020. 

Accepted as a true and accurate record.

  • Matters arising from those minutes:  Lucy Bywater commented that the intended specialist subgroups had not so far operated effectively due to time pressures of committee members, with a partial exception of the Food and Agriculture subgroup for a certain period.
  • Chair’s report 2020–21 and reflections on the year ahead

Lucy Bywater took us through the past year’s programme of lively and varied events engaging fundamentally with key issues in in relation to the environmental crises and particularly climate catastrophe.  All presentations and films were necessarily delivered via Zoom, with some advantages that included reaching out to a very wide audience and savings in terms of travel and therefore carbon costs.

Highlights included:

  • Green Recovery of Town Centres
  • “Growing Green: Animal free agriculture, a future farming system for a planet with compassion”, from veganic farmer Iain Tolhurst
  • A motivational talk on greening a business by Alan Rance
  • Oliver Rubinstein, National Farmers Union (NFU) County Adviser for Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, addressing the question Can British agriculture achieve Zero Carbon by 2040?
  • Dr Peter Clough on Hydrogen: its potential and the pitfalls.

Lucy expanded how BCCF had been actively committed to a range of activities during the Great Big Green Week, importantly in conjunction with Cory Walker of Sustainable Bedfordshire.  BCCF hosted two talks via Zoom on consecutive nights, “The Day the World Stops Shopping” from Canada by author J B Mackinnon, and Rob Paton on the important topic of carbon fee and dividend.

She then reflected on the enormous sea-change of attitudes towards climate change, with the public now far more engaged and anxious for action and far better coverage in the media, plus new environmentalist groups – and how things might play out as we move towards COP26.

Lucy ended with thanks to Committee members.  See her full report, for which we thanked her, in the Appendix.

  • Treasurer’s Report

Ivan Ivanovic highlighted the grant for £4000 from The Climate Coalition (TCC) towards the Great Big Green Week in Bedford, and the new facility for making donations online to BCCF via the Website.  He reported our financial situation as follows:

Net BCCF Balance at bank…….£494.21
PayPal account…………………….£213.28
Cash at hand………………………….£209.93
Total unencumbered funds…..£917.42

Balance remaining of TCC funds £2176.76.

Some or all of this may need to be repaid to TCC.

  • Election of Committee for 2021/2022

The following were elected:

Lucy Bywater – Vacancy
Colin Hall
Ivan Ivanovic
Jane MorrisHeather MitchellCarried substantially en bloc
New Committee membersElizabeth Chapman Janet PeirceColin HallLucy BywaterCarried substantially for both
Existing Committee membersRos Blevins Gareth Ellis Anna French David Maxwell Heather Mitchell Jane Morris Pip SadlerIvan IvanovicPip SadlerCarried substantially en bloc
  •  Any other business:   Dr Mohammad Alrahami provided information on how Rotary groups in Beds, Herts and Bucks, are responding to the environmental crises.  There have been actions in Luton for the Great Big Green Week, despite the relatively short notice, for example, a vehicle-free week at the Warden Hill Infants and Primary schools.

The meeting closed at 7.30 p.m. We then heard a summary from Grace Fisher at the Climate Coalition on what is really needed at COP26….

Appendix:  Chair’s annual report, October 2021:

We’ve had to continue online for our monthly committee meetings and our monthly talks and screenings, though the advantage has been convenience, no emissions from travel and, for our events a wider audience from across the county and much further afield including from Belgium and the US, for example.

Last December saw the start of a series of agriculture related events we organised, based around our initial idea of ‘Can Bedfordshire Feed Itself?’ The first event was a screening of ‘Kiss the Ground’ about regenerative farming. Powerful, engaging and well-reviewed, but BCCF always with a critical eye questioned some of the claims especially around the necessity for animal agriculture.

In January we agreed a curated list of recommended films and podcasts to watch during the dark days of lockdown. From 39 Ways to Save the Planet on Radio 4 to a video on agroforestry. You can find this under the blog posts on our website.

In February we had a successful Green Recovery of Town Centres online event with councillors and independent businesses from Leighton Buzzard and from Bedford. It was very well attended; the local economy and the sustainable revival of the High Street is clearly a subject that engages people. 

In March we returned to agriculture as promised, and had an enthusiastic audience (from far afield, over 100 people) for our Growing Green, Animal Free Agriculture presentation “Growing Green: Animal free agriculture, a future farming system for a planet with compassion”, from the truly inspirational Oxfordshire veganic farmer Iain Tolhurst.  It was felt to be an effective counter to some of the optimistic claims made by the ‘Kiss the Ground’ film. Thanks to Pip for recommending him.

In April we had an inspirational talk on green business from Alan Rance of Midas, Bedford pattern cutting company. No Greenwash, straight talking and a must-watch for any business wanting to do the right thing and thrive at the same time. Alan has since presented to an impressed Bedford Borough Council’s Climate Change Committee.

In May we welcomed Oliver Rubinstein, National Farmers Union (NFU) County Adviser for Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, who addressed the question Can British agriculture achieve Zero Carbon by 2040 – and help restore nature? He is keen to engage with people about agriculture and ambitions the NFU has, and to keep the conversation going. It’s a subject we will keep returning to and that interests local people.

In July we had a comprehensive and entertaining presentation from Cranfield’s Dr Peter Clough on Hydrogen its potential and the pitfalls, with a novel Lord of the Rings-themed approach. The recording on our Youtube channel is recommended.

September was especially busy with the Great Big Green Week which included a good number of events aimed at raising awareness of the climate and ecological crisis. We successfully applied for some funding from the Climate Coalition to run events and get others involved. Thank you to Cory Walker of Sustainable Bedfordshire, Plastic Free and Refill Bedford who put time and energy into both admin and organising including for a website, press releases, banners and posters.

Our own BCCF events included the very well attended “The Day the World Stops Shopping” from Vancouver journalist and author J B Mackinnon. His book is fascinating and thought-provoking about global consumerism from interesting and unexpected angles, a must-read in my view.  

The next evening we hosted a talk from Rob Paton, with a useful campaigning overview of carbon fee and dividend and we were inspired by the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby on this subject, Milton Keynes Council having voted this summer in favour of a motion to support carbon fee and dividend policy. This is finally getting a lot more attention internationally, markedly more so since we last covered it a couple of years ago with a presentation at the university.

Also as part of GBGW we had a drop in climate coffee morning at the Green Earth Café in Bedford which the MP was able to join for a while. The week culminated in a very successful Vegan Fair which BCCF  had a stall at, shared with Parents for Future. We had an eco book swap and a plant/produce swap.

It’s clear from the national context that civil disobedience from groups such as Extinction Rebellion has hugely raised the profile of the environmental crisis, alongside of course figures such as  GretaThunberg and David Attenborough. And Extreme weather events globally, including this year, have hit the headlines and very much heightened public appetite for action, according to polls and surveys. Governments have a mandate for ambitious action but many of us are not overly optimistic as the Environment Bill goes through Parliament and COP26 approaches.

In term of media, the BBC now has a climate change editor, Justin Rowlatt. And tabloids are covering environmental news on a regular basis. Locally, I’ve been invited, as BCCF Chair, to talk on BBC 3 Counties JVS show at least half a dozen times this year on subjects including Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain actions to Electric vehicles, air quality and recycling. I’m noticing more informed people call in talking about their fears and demands for action. And climate sceptic callers are being challenged by the presenter as not previously.

It’s very promising locally that there are several active new groups doing important and practical work locally including GOVET (Bedfordshire Great Ouse Valley Environmental Trust) and Heather has been able to join some of their meetings. Also excellent initiatives from Ampthill Climate Change Group. Cory Walker would very much like volunteers to help on his local campaigns on plastic waste.

I’d like to finish with thank yous.

Firstly very warm wishes to Heather and to David, our longest standing committee members and campaigners on important causes. Both have faced challenging health issues recently and we wish them both all the very best. And thank you to both for their passion for environmental and climate justice.

A particular thanks is due to George Davies who made excellent contributions to our committee in the couple of years he was with us. He stepped down this summer due to other commitments but his calm and thoughtful approach to organisation was really appreciated and he did useful work to improve and update our website as well as setting up a BCCF Youtube channel so that we can share recording of our events and reach a wider audience.

Finally a big thank you to all our committee members for their regular time commitment at our committee meetings and our public events. And especially to Colin who has patiently helped me as sole Chair this year.


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