The last 12 months marked a turning point as it was finally recognised that we are in the midst of a climate and environmental emergency. In 2019, SERA added its voice to those calling for a rapid and comprehensive response.
SERA’s recent work has been essential in helping shaping Labour policy, in providing a platform for Labour politicians and advocates to champion green action, and in campaigning for Labour to win power.
In December 2019, Labour offered a compelling and ambitious programme to address the climate emergency - including a green industrial revolution to transform our economy and society. We failed to win the election but as we pull together to come back from this defeat, we must not set aside our green ambition.
Indeed, a strong environmental agenda will be key to Labour’s future successes. We must now continue to press for an ambitious, urgent and comprehensive plan of action, call out the many failures of the Conservative Government and build a broad movement to bring about the changes we need.
In February 2020, SERA member met to agree motions and elect a new Executive Committee. Please see below for the agreed 18 motions that will help shape our work and campaigns for 2020 and beyond, and see here for members elected to SERA's Executive Committee 2020-2022. SERA members will continue to receive regular updates on the work of the Executive taking SERA’s campaigns forward.
Shadow Environment Secretary, Luke Pollard MP, addressed the AGM as keynote speaker and stressed how, as SERA members, we must channel our passion for environmental and social justice into common sense language that resonates with voters.
The meeting also hosted useful workshops led by London Assembly Member Leonie Cooper and Oxford City Cllr Tom Hayes on campaigning and wining on green issues for the upcoming May 2020 Mayoral and local elections.
Motions agreed by SERA's 2020 AGM
1) SERA commits to: educate LP members and elected representatives on aviation, air pollution and climate change, and actively campaign for a Labour policy/strategy to halt the third runway at Heathrow and other airport expansion and for democratic publicly-owned affordable rail as an alternative to short haul flights.
2) This year must be when Britain commences comprehensive climate action and leads securing global agreement at COP 2020 which fully addresses the climate emergency. SERA attended COP 2019. Using its voice, SERA will prioritise COP activity, work with frontbenchers, Labour mayors, councillors and unions and establish a COP working/policy group.
3) This AGM resolves to organise a SERA fringe meeting as part of the counter summit at COP 2020 In Glasgow in November 2020 at which we give a platform to grass roots campaigners and trade union activists as well as prominent Labour Party figures.
4) This AGM resolves to campaign within trade unions and CLPs with which we have links to secure funding to assist campaigners to attend events around COP26 and to publicise events and demonstrations around COP26 organised by any progressive forces in the environmental movement
5) SERA is concerned that by leaving the EU and negotiating new trade deals the Conservative Government will cosy up to Bolsonaro and Trump. They are climate deniers, harmful to the planet and Britain and Bolsonaro wants to cut down the Amazon. SERA will work with Labour’s frontbench to highlight/campaign against this.
6) With the UK’s withdrawal from the CAP, SERA will establish a working group with the Shadow DEFRA Secretary on food policy for Labour, to look at the wide range of damaging consequences of industrial farming today and to promote agro-ecological alternatives, in the context of a new agricultural settlement.
7) The climate emergency is now. Government must initiate a climate emergency spending review (CESR) assessing all expenditure through a carbon lens. Agreed in motions at Labour Conference 2019, SERA will press Labour frontbenchers to demand Ministers begin a CESR and ask Labour local government to initiate their own CESRs.
8) SERA will aim to organise a mini-policy conference for members and groups to input into the programme of Labour’s new leadership, plans of Labour mayors and councils, challenge the Conservative government, prepare for the COP and promote the changes need to meet the climate emergency.
9) Wales has its own National Assembly and a Labour Government, which has devolved powers over, among other things, agriculture, economic development, transport and the environment. Therefore, this AGM instructs the Executive to work with our members in Wales to establish an autonomous SERA Cymru along the lines of SERA Scotland.
11) In order to enhance the effectiveness of local SERA groups, the national organisation will: Ask all members to give their consent to being contacted by their local group, give members the contracts for their local group, provide local groups with contact details of all national members in their area.
12) SERA will encourage members to form alliances with their local CLP and Sub-Regional Women’s Forum Groups and local trade union groups. Women support the Climate Justice concerns of children who have joined Fridays for the Future. They will press their local authorities and MPs to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets.
13) This AGM demands that the EC ensures all decisions and motions passed at AGM are immediately publicised to all members, and posted on the SERA website. Further that the EC communicates a plan to implement AGM decisions to members to ensure accountability on how they are being progressed within SERA.
14) SERA will publish a new ethical sponsorship policy including not accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies and endorse unions alongside Cooperatives and Non-Profits pursuing a sustainable business model. SERA will engage members to put forward organisations that would want to sponsor SERA activity and events.
15) Climate catastrophe creates increasing numbers of climate refugees. Definitions (political and economic) do not reflect realities and current responses are insufficient. SERA will assess and highlight the issue alongside others in Britain and abroad campaigning on this issue and work to get Labour MPs and unions to support this approach.
16) Billions in annual UK Government subsidies support “maximising” UK oil and gas extraction and biofuels. The 5.7 billion barrels from existing oil and gas fields alone exceed our Paris climate goals share of emissions. SERA should campaign to end all these subsidies, and the legislation that underpins them.
17) An independent Just Transition Committee is needed to assess skill gaps and stimulate good, unionised jobs in new industries, such as, but not restricted to, renewable energy and energy efficiency. SERA should work in partnership with trade unions to ensure a just transition during decarbonisation of the UK economy.
18) With Labour being defeated, our ability to affect government policy is currently reduced. But grassroots campaigns, community, worker-led GND plans for climate jobs and just transition in conjunction with Labour-led councils, metropolitan mayors and MPs could re-engage communities and create an effective national Labour strategy to address the Climate Emergency.