On Tuesday, 6th December, the Geography Department hosted a talk by Ruth Ritter, Green Party Councillor for Earlswood and Whitebushes.
It was whilst studying for a degree in Geography at Durham University that Ruth first became passionate about climate change and social justice, but it was not until her daughter also began studying Geography at university that she realised that her personal actions (such as becoming vegetarian and joining marches and campaigns) were not enough to avert climate catastrophe. She needed to do more and in 2019 she was elected as a borough councillor representing the Green Party. She has been recently re-elected for another 4 years as part of a 9 strong team of Green party councillors (only 4 were up for election this year).
One of the first motions Ruth put to the council was to declare a climate emergency with a commitment to strong policies to cut emissions and set out an action plan to achieve net carbon zero for all council activities by 2030. Whilst the Conservative led council did not accept the term ‘climate emergency’ they have developed an action plan including waste reduction, low carbon transport, water efficiency, responsible sourcing, SuDS and the reduced use of pesticides and peat-based compost.
Laura McIntyre, Associate Principal (Teaching & Learning) said, “It was particularly interesting to hear about the different roles and responsibilities of Surrey County Council and Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and the difficult decisions they have to make to prioritise spending on a limited budget.”
“Whilst Ruth made it clear that the progress being made is frustratingly slow, it is moving in the right direction. Ruth continues to be the “green in the room”, questioning the impact of Council decisions on the environment and protecting democracy through raising the local voice.”
“Ruth also raised a motion for Reigate to become a FairTrade Town. She heads the Reigate Fairtrade Steering Group and Reigate has been awarded Fairtrade Community Status by the Fairtrade Foundation. This internationally recognised award is given when a town can demonstrate that five key goals have been met, showing support for Fairtrade from their local council, shops, businesses and cafes, and a range of community and faith groups.”
“Our Geography students asked excellent questions on the main policies on the Green Party agenda and the seeming disconnect between National Government targets and the implementation left to local government.”
Ruth is an inspiring example of how individuals really can make a difference – you don’t have to be a career politician or Greta Thunberg to have a positive impact on our environment and the lives of people in our local community. Thank you, Ruth!
Find out more about studying Geography at Reigate College.