The BCA story - recapping our launch and journey so far

With our very first campus event at King’s College London on Monday, the #BCALaunch officially came to an end this week. And what a launch it has been! With over 100 thousand online interactions, 16 media hits (including the Telegraph and the Times), 14 applications to join our ever-growing team, 2 events at the Conservative Party Conference, and 2000 followers already on social media, this launch has far exceeded even our highest expectations. Rounding it all off with an event with one of our advisors (and world-leading expert on nuclear power), Michael Shellenberger, was the cherry on top – especially for the 100 attendees that witnessed his rousing speech, whilst Extinction Rebellion were blocking the streets outside. 

This blog post is not so much a chance to blow our own trumpet, but more a reflection on what exactly the BCA story is, and the direction we intend to take the organisation in, now that the launch is successfully behind us. 

As a strong environmentalist my entire life, as well as a classical liberal (or liberal conservative if you prefer), I have always felt uncomfortable with the way conservatives and libertarians seem to approach the environment. Many appear happy to let the Left claim the issue for itself, consequently monopolising it with big government, top-down, intrusive mandates that prioritise their political agendas over genuine environmental concern. You can imagine my delight when I came across the American Conservation Coalition – on Twitter, of all places. Here was a fresh, conservative and free-market approach to the environment that resonated not only with my political beliefs, but also struck a chord with my tree-hugging self. I immediately cold-emailed Chief Operating Officer, Danielle Butcher, and asked how I could get involved. A few days later, an interview was set up, we discussed the small part I could play in their mission from the UK, and I was onboarded as a Communications Researcher. In many ways, I felt like I had found a true political home. 

As I started working with ACC, writing articles and aiding the communications team in the small ways that I could, I became more and more impressed with the way the organisation was not just run, but actively leaving a mark on American politics. As an almost exclusively student-led organisation, ACC bubbles with enthusiasm and ambitious drive, and this pervades its everyday operations. From organising student fly-ins to DC to meet with Members of Congress, to appearing on every media outlet imaginable, ACC harnesses its youthful energy in a way that not many organisations are capable of. The impact on American politics is tangible. Not too long ago, the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus was set up in Congress amongst conservatives, GOP lawmakers are increasingly more amenable to taking on board the youth’s concerns regarding climate change, and the pernicious myth that conservatives do not care about the environment is being burst on a daily basis. There is a long road ahead, but ACC is laying the first bricks. 

When I graduated from Kent this past July, I felt a bit lost as to what the next step should be. I had been strongly involved with Students For Liberty in the UK, and developed a strong passion for the non-profit world of political activism. My involvement with ACC only strengthened this. And then it struck me, with Labour talking up a British version of the New Green Deal and the near-daily shenanigans of Extinction Rebellion – the UK needed an ACC as well. 

When I spoke to friends and fellow SFL’ers about this, the enthusiasm the idea was received with was astounding. So many young Brits were so extremely ready for a movement that combined their political beliefs with their environmental concerns, and counter-balanced the stereotypical narrative we are fed – much as I had felt before encountering ACC. And thus the British Conservation Alliance was born, through late-night calls, endless networking with potentially interested peers, and a desperate Maz (our COO) hopelessly trying to get everyone to use Slack.

The ACC (specifically Benji, Dani, and Quill) were only too happy to help, signing a partnership agreement with us, and, amazingly, giving us a shoutout in Congress just 24 hours after we launched. You guys have been the inspiration behind all this, and we can’t wait to continue working together to reclaim the narrative not only in the UK and the US, but also across the world. 

And so here we are, having launched 3 weeks ago. We are grateful for the support of every single one of you, from Amber Rudd and Ryan Shorthouse to all the students fighting for what they believe in.

What’s the plan now? Apart from all the events we are planning, in Oxford, London, Wales, etc., we will be looking to increase our operational output. From next week, we are launching a membership platform which will give non-team members a chance to join our rapidly growing community. Next Wednesday, Maz and I will be in London all day for (way too many) meetings (for one day), hoping to grow our partnerships, be they research-related or more political. Organisations have reached out to us left, right, and centre and we are very excited about some of the potential partnerships in the making (stay posted!). 

In the longer run, we hope to firmly establish our campus network, launch an online academy to familiarise students with the ideas of conservative conservation and market-based environmentalism, and of course work closely with ACC on projects that will bring together our missions trans-Atlantically. 

Hang on tight, it’s gonna be a hell of a ride! 

Chris

Christopher Barnard