My Green Story – Tom Scott
I first became involved in environmental campaigning about 18 years ago, when my four-year-old daughter was nearly killed by a 4X4 mounting the pavement in Market Street in Falmouth. It was one of those big, shiny “urban tractors” with bull-bars that were then becoming popular with people who had absolutely no need for gas-guzzling off-road vehicles. I was so incensed by this that I started a campaign aimed at discouraging people from buying these ridiculous and dangerous status symbols.
This led to my first encounter with the Green Party, when I found out that Sian Berry – who’s gone on to become our party co-leader and a strong candidate to be Mayor of London – was also running an anti-4X4 campaign up in London.
I joined my local Friends of the Earth Group and campaigned with them for the proper pedestrianisation of Falmouth’s main shopping streets. My first experience of direct action was when we worked with a group of local schoolkids to make a giant papier-maché tortoise, which we paraded along these streets to slow down the traffic.
Not long after that I had what you might call a road to Damascus moment, or at least a road to Truro moment. I was driving back home with my family along the A30 when we were caught in a rainstorm unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was so bad you couldn’t see even a few feet ahead, and we had to pull off the road till it was over. When we got home, we turned on the telly and saw that this storm had caused a massively destructive flood at Boscastle. I’d known about climate change for some time, but this really brought home what it meant.
It was around this time that my parents died, and I began to think about the challenges their generation had taken on in the shape of Nazism, and the sacrifices they’d made to defeat it. It seemed to me that my own generation was now faced with such an existential challenge, and was doing almost nothing about it.
Soon after that I started a campaign called Cornwall Switch, which was aimed at persuading people in Cornwall to switch to renewably generated electricity. It was moderately successful, but I started to realise that this kind of consumer-led initiative was hopelessly inadequate to the scale of what needs to be done.
Individual consumer choices are important, but while every aspect of our economic system remains dependent on fossil fuels, individual choices are only ever going to scratch the surface. I began to understand that what we needed was radical change to the whole system – and only the Green Party seemed to really get this.
Nothing I’ve seen since then has persuaded me otherwise, and in the last year or so millions of people around the world have started to demand just such systemic change, inspired by the amazing work of Greta Thunberg, the schools climate strikers and Extinction Rebellion.
Back in 2004, I’d never have imagined running for political office. Politics seemed like a grubby business best observed from a distance. But politics, in the widest sense, is what determines the shape of our lives and the future of our planet – and when we’re facing an existential threat like the climate emergency we all need to get involved.
If not us, who? And if not now, when?