CLIMATE activism is today’s rock’n’roll according to Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, who was addressing the West Berkshire climate conference. 

Mr Benyon said: “Climate activism is today’s rock’n’roll. It’s now apparently cool to miss school.”

He was opening the conference on October 28 at Newbury College. West Berkshire Council organised the event to get the public involved in shaping its new environment strategy

Mr Benyon said: “It’s easy to disparage some campaign groups, but raising climate change up the agenda is right and necessary.

“It is right that this is now right at the top of the political, and societal, agenda.”

He said the climate crisis is the ‘greatest and most existential issue of our time’. 

Mr Benyon mentioned several organisations ‘doing totally inspirational work right here in our community’, like the West Berkshire Climate Action Network, and Thatcham & Newbury Plastic Free. 

Greenfest at Hampstead Norreys was also mentioned, ‘out of which came really exciting initiatives’. 

Read more: West Berks ranks highest in Berkshire for climate action

He said: “Today is not about any particular party or campaign group or individual, or achieving more column inches in the news. It’s much more than that.

“Really importantly, today is about helping West Berkshire Council form its strategy on getting to carbon zero.”

The council’s environment strategy is being put together following the declaration of a climate emergency in July. 

A draft will be published in the middle of November — when the strategy goes out for public consultation for six weeks — allowing local people to have their say on the plans to get to carbon zero.  

Mr Benyon said that in recent years, carbon emissions within the scope of the local authority have reduced in West Berkshire — but this doesn’t include the M4. 

He said: “The greatest and most successful forces for change in our history had a hopey-changey vibe about then. Let’s try to be a bit hopey-changey.”