By Miguel Sommerville
Miguel Sommerville is the UK’s only eco-party-partner, working alongside the communities on the ground to bring actionable global goals, technologies and solutions to life. Global Livewire is a Q&A series aiming to harness the best voices from around the world and put them on a global stage.
For me, the response to this issue – and the opportunity it presents – is huge. As a first-time member of the European parliament, I believe it is of the utmost importance that I use my voice to set an example. Environmental action is our collective responsibility, and political leaders need to be able to break the archaic mould, meet the challenges and help create a stronger, healthier, more prosperous planet.
After a childhood spent on the streets of London, homelessness is such a startling and unexpected aspect of my past, that the catalyst to create eco-partnerships has always felt like a natural way to unite people, and to make all stakeholders aware of the issues. With a history of homelessness I have a lifelong interest in how to bring real and tangible results from any endeavour.
Staying in poverty requires us to constantly enter into debt in order to survive, but this saddens me because the resulting financial waste should be used to create such noble and beneficial activities as voting – social security, and social welfare. Thus, ecologically sustainable communities, where debt is no longer necessary, is certainly my ultimate aim.
What I find most interesting about my neighbourhood is the difference it can make to some of the most deprived areas in London. The sprawl of formerly run-down shops on our stretch of trendy Kingsland Road is testament to the rising standard of living and clean energy from greener transportation.
While this works as a beneficial start, it doesn’t stop there. Energy is the largest source of waste, and there are numerous resources that can be extracted from it to drive more eco-friendly applications in society. For example, I recently heard of a project in India which hopes to produce bio-fuel by utilising animal fat as a basis for its heat. This type of technology should be able to harness a huge portion of the extra heat produced and created due to the addition of waste heat, such as heat from heaters, in use every day.
We are pretty good at walking, taking showers and doing our shopping, but what we should all be thinking of is that we can do all of this to a much greater extent and much more sustainably if we’re aware of exactly what we’re doing. We should be aware of how much of our waste is material waste.
As a we grow, we begin to change the density of the UK’s trees, and as we change the density of the nation’s trees, we begin to change the flora of the entire world. This means that we will be able to harness renewable energy from the trees, and how this changes will have an incredible impact on the way that the whole world and the environment will operate. This topic is something I am increasingly passionate about, and the question that I keep asking is: how does sustainable living create jobs?
So, given that sustainability is often looked at as a moral issue, I felt that co-operating with people in other parts of the world is the way forward. I hope that my personal example makes people aware of the benefits of sustainable living, and begins to touch the lives of others in more substantive ways than just turning a switch on or off.
Miguel Sommerville is an MEP for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the European Parliament, representing the city of Bethnal Green. He graduated from London Metropolitan University and moved to New York in 2009, where he finished his Masters degree at Columbia University. He moved back to the UK in 2011, and was elected to the European Parliament as the MEP for East London in 2014. Read more about his story and principles. Follow him on Twitter @MGemendo1