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15.04.2016

European Greens visit Bristol to highlight importance of working collectively in Europe

Senior Green politicians from Europe are converging on Bristol this Friday and Saturday for a special exchange visit. Participants will include Simone Peter, the co-spokesperson of the German Green Party; Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales; and two UK Green MEPs, Molly Scott Cato and Jean Lambert.

The busy two-day programme will kick off with an ‘Action on Air Quality’ at the Bearpit in Bristol to highlight the critical state of the city’s air quality. Government data shows that air pollution kills nearly 200 people every year in the city, and pollutant levels regularly exceed EU legal limits. On Friday evening a panel discussion open to the public will consider ‘Building a Western Powerhouse’, and explore what we can learn from Germany’s renewable energy transition.

Throughout the weekend the delegation will share knowledge and experiences on issues such as energy, divestment, refugees, right wing populism, youth and civil rights. They will also issue a declaration pledging to work for a more democratic, more social and more sustainable EU and reasserting that the UK is stronger and greener in the EU. A press conference will be held on Friday at midday providing a chance to question Natalie Bennett, Simone Peter and Jan Philip Albrecht. Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West, will be attending all the events throughout the weekend. She said:

“This exchange is an opportunity to consider how we can deal collectively with the many cross-border challenges we face. We know that we need joint European efforts in our struggle for sustainable energy, participatory democracy, social justice and gender equality, and that these are more likely to be achieved if we work together with our European neighbours within the EU.”

Molly is particularly keen to discuss the energy revolution currently taking place in Germany. In the past decade the share of renewable electricity produced in the country has risen from 6% to nearly 25%. More than half of the investment in renewables has been made by small investors, meaning that this transition has empowered local communities and brought great wealth to rural communities.

It is widely acknowledged that the South West has better renewable resources than Germany and a similar transformation in the region has been calculated to have the potential to create 122,000 jobs and add over £4bn a year to the regional economy. Molly said:

“The exciting developments in renewables in Germany because Greens in power nationally and locally have helped create the right incentives for this industry of the future not only to flourish economically but also to be owned and controlled by local people. The South West has the potential renewable resources to follow their lead and turn our region into a real Western Powerhouse.”

Simone Peter, Spokesperson of the German Green Party and former minister for Environment, Energy and Mobility in the German federal State of Saarland, said:

"Throughout the past decade energy politics have changed drastically in Germany, not least due to the continued fight of the Greens for a green energy transition. Much progress has been made at the local and the federal state level, together with local activists and NGOs, a movement that is increasingly growing in the UK. This is an area in which there is much to learn from one another.”

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Terry Reintke

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