Category Archives: Climate Change

David Kesteven – North East Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

David KestevenAs the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.

I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall.  Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.

In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.

I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:

• Re-nationalise the railways.

• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.

• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.

• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.

I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.

Green Party candidate contact details

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‘Farmageddon’

FarmyardAccording to the ‘Farming Industry’ and Agribusiness, the way in which creation has evolved is hideously wrong. You cannot cook and eat a chicken unless you pluck the feathers off which is a waste of time and money. So the farming industry has developed chickens without feathers. Instead of allowing cows to ruminate freely in fields of grass, it has decided it is much better to keep cows in narrow pens, feed them grain that has been processed and saturated in pesticides and to genetically modify the cow so that it can be milked more frequently in order to increase milk yields. The farming industry says animals are much more efficient food producers if they are kept in tightly confined cages and pens and fed a very intensive high protein diet.

The folly of this way of thinking and the disastrous consequences of the industry’s interference in nature is meticulously documented in a highly distressing and disturbing book by the CEO of ‘Compassion in World Farming’. It is a grim story of devastating dimensions. We are busy creating our own new version of a hell of tortured and abused farm animals, polluted and poisoned land, rivers and seas and a range of new diseases in both animals and humans alike derived from the phosphates, nitrates and other highly toxic chemicals used in pesticides and fertilisers and animal feed. There is, according to ‘Farmageddon’, clear evidence that these poisons and toxins are gradually finding their way into the human food chain.

The appalling ignorance among many of our MPs, MEPs and ‘Lords’ of these issues and what is happening on factory farms and to the countryside is exemplified by their willingness to pass legislation based on ideology rather than facts and evidence, and by their all too easy acceptance of the influence of powerful lobby groups working on behalf of agribusiness.

As a recent correspondent to The Independent newspaper said
‘Abuse is endemic in the conveyer-belt system (of abattoirs) that allows animal killing on this massive scale. In the UK we breed, fatten and slaughter one billion animals a year. When animals are seen as a “crop” to be “harvested” and a “product” to be sold as meat, compassion and empathy are in short supply”. (The Independent, 15th February 2015, Letters, from Sara Starkey, Tonbridge, Kent).

The author of ‘Farmageddon’ has travelled widely to gather facts and figures regarding the cost and effects of factory farming. Each of his chapters begins with a personal story of how small farmers, village communities, animal and fish populations have been affected by the mass production of food by intensive farming methods. It is certainly not only the animals that suffer. People in North and South America who have found themselves living close to vast pig farms develop respiratory problems and health issues. In Derbyshire, the Green Party has put a lot of work into campaigning against the application to build a mega pig farm at Foston. Although the plans have not been passed at the moment, it is likely that after the election, Midland Pig Producers will appeal against any decisions that don’t go their way.

In spite of the bland assurances of the ‘industry’ manure tanks do overflow, genetically modified plants and fish do escape into the eco-system, and minute particles in pesticides and fertilisers do leach into the water table and the atmosphere with measurable negative health effects on populations.

In fish farms, certain species of fish which cease to ‘fatten up’ once they have reached puberty, are artificially modified into a kind of ‘third sex’ so that they continue to put on weight. Wherever animals that were intended to roam free are cooped up in totally artificial conditions they show distress, boredom and injury. We truly have created a hell on earth, yet its residents are not simply the long suffering animals but the humans who designed and built it; we are ultimately the victims of the way in which we permit the farming industry to turn animals into ‘products’.

The writing must surely be on the wall when we read that the Parisian chef Alain Ducasse, with 18 Michelin stars has ‘removed all meat from the menu at his eponymous restaurant in Paris’s most storied hotel, the Plaza Athénée’ (The Independent, Friday 13th March 2015, p47). Why has he done this? Because, according to Ducasse,
‘There is an absolute necessity to go towards a better way of eating, in harmony with nature; healthier and more environmentally friendly’.

If we are to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the next 40 years we need to reduce our consumption of meat by 50%, according to a report in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Country fieldThe Green Party believes that we need to expose the ‘big lie’ of factory farming that their existence is necessary in order to feed the world’s burgeoning population. This simply is not true. There is no real problem about feeding the world if we all reduce the amount of meat that we consume and reduce the huge amount of food waste that we tolerate.

This article has been adapted from a review, written by Donald Macdonald for Derby Cathedral Outlook, of the book Farmageddon by Philip Lymbery (Bloomsbury, 2014)

To find out more, you can watch a short film on the Compassion in World Farming website www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/

The Future must be Green in a Warming World

MikeIt is most heartening but not surprising that a growing number of young people are joining the Green Party. They have taken the brunt of the failed austerity economic package that was designed to force privatisation of state assets. The promise of advancement through education has been broken by the coalition government scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance and raising university fees. Many are forced to take low paid or zero hours contracts that leave them in debt, unable to enter the property market and unable to start developing a long term career. Had the Green New Deal, offered by the Greens in 2010 been implemented, none of this would have been necessary; we would now be investing in the future, not shoring up the vested interests of the past.

But this is not the only reason why more young people are turning to the Green Party. The little reported UN Climate Change Synthesis report spelled out yet again that we are running out of time to avoid dangerous climate change.

For many global leaders and financial managers, the warnings posted in this report are in a future that either they won’t see or from which they expect to be protected by their wealth. But for the young generation, this report is talking about their future, the time when they hope to build their careers, raise their own families, enjoy their own retirement. What it is telling them is that they will see a continued rise in temperature, a continued rise in sea level, an increase in violent and unpredictable weather that will threaten their property, their health and safety. They will have to face the prospects of a 3C rise in temperature by the end of the century, a time when they might hope that their children are securely settled in to career and family life. But security is something they will not have in the rapidly degrading world of three degrees of warming.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305Because the needs of the present economic order are seen to be more important than the needs of our life support system and the future, politicians and economists are accepting that we may well have to overshoot the 2C mark, and accept 3C of warming. To keep below 2C, that is too high anyway, we have to leave 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground – this I have explained in earlier articles on this site. We have to start now to decarbonise the energy sector, we have to invest now to bring global carbon emission to zero by the end of the century, starting with the developed economies. But this strategy conflicts with the interests of wealth.

A 3C rise would be catastrophic. The Amazon rain forest would be lost with global implications for both climate and biodiversity. Sea levels would rise to 25 metres, based on the last time Earth’s temperature was 3 degrees above the 20th century average. Large areas of the planet would be uninhabitable, water scarcity would reduce food production considerably, billions would starve. The people of wealth would live in enclaves at high latitudes, guarded by private militias, like the medieval barons. This is the world being planned by the politicians and corporate bosses today. Small wonder young people are turning to the Green Party.

The next international climate meeting, COP21, will be in Paris at the end of 2015. This Conference is meant to agree a replacement to the largely failed Kyoto Treaty, to force deep and binding cuts to global emissions. Much of the talk will be about adaptation and tech-fixes, because the global corporations see huge profits in multinational tax-payer funded schemes to enable us to live with the effects of climate change. The UN Synthesis Report makes it very clear that without deep cuts to emissions, ‘ warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence).’

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_n2015 is election year. The media led campaign will focus on divisive issues like migration and Europe, stirring up fear and hate among us. The Green manifesto is one of hope for a better future for all. We can all live sustainable lives in stable communities within the natural limits of the Earth. It will mean that some have to do with less so that most can have enough. But that is the Green idea of fairness. Our candidates and campaign teams will be bringing our message of Hope not Fear to the electorate. Join us and help us build the political momentum ahead of the Paris Summit, make it clear that this time we want an agreement that works for the Common Good.

http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_SPM.pdf

Mike Shipley  November 2014

October newsletter shows Belper Greens mean business!

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The ‎Mid Derbyshire ‪Green Party clearly mean business!  Their October newsletter has been delivered to every house in the town’s North Ward!! Bring on the elections!

So what makes The Greens different?

  • Every citizen will receive the ‘Citizen’s Income’ – no matter what!
  • The NHS will be protected;
  • The railways will be returned to public hands;
  • Student tuition fees will be abolished and so will student loans;
  • Most importantly, we will do what is needed to ensure our kids have a planet to inherit!

Join us and make a difference!!  We meet every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at The Bulls Head, Belper Lane End, DE56 2DL

Post Carbon – where will the smart money go?

Fracking 9Last weekend, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney made the most important political statement of the year. Speaking at a World Bank seminar in New York, Carney said: the “vast majority of reserves are un-burnable”. He was referring to fossil fuels, he was speaking to financiers and industrialists.

Carney is no liberal Green giant, he is a very conservative minded Canadian who encouraged the exploitation of his country’s tar sands, about the dirtiest fuel in the world. Yet he has had to swallow a dose of reality and accept the warnings of Nicolas Stern about the full impact of climate change on global finance. He has at last accepted the dangers of putting too many of our economic eggs into the oil basket.

In the spring of 2012, I wrote an article called ‘The Carbon Bubble’, published on the DGP website. [ https://derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk/2012/03/17/the-carbon-bubble/ ] That article showed that a huge amount of global wealth is invested in oil and gas reserves. If these reserves are burned, as they have to be to give a return on the investment, then global temperatures will rise to between 3.5 & 5.0 degrees C. If the wealth invested in coal is added in, then the planet becomes uninhabitable.

At that time investors continued to pour their wealth in to fossil reserves. We are still seeing that in the UK over fracking. The rich and powerful individuals and organisations making these investments fully expect a return. For them to stay rich, the world must fry.

This is the problem that financiers and politicians of all shades except Green have allowed to happen. If the carbon reserves are not burned, to keep temperature rise to below 2C, colossal amounts of private and corporate wealth will be lost, markets will crash, the Carbon Bubble bursts, unleashing a financial crisis that would dwarf that of 2008. If the reserves are burned to return the expected profit and wealth, then the cost of the resulting climate chaos will be far greater than the value of the reserves, the economy will be bankrupt.

Carney’s predecessor at the BoE, the ever cautious Mervyn King, recognised that the warnings about over investment in carbon assets by the Stock Exchange needed due consideration. The new Governor has indeed considered the matter and is issuing his quiet warnings to the market. Is it a coincidence that the markets have dipped this week? Is the move to divestment in coal, gas and oil really so altruistic? Are we seeing a steady retreat from carbon assets as the reality of climate change begins to penetrate the minds of corporate investors? If so this will create its own problems.

Where will the wealth go? If it is pulled out of oil and gas, it will be looking for a home. Is this the real reason for the drive for privatisation of public service. Not an ideologically driven policy at all, but a pragmatic response to the need to find a safe haven for private and corporate wealth. What could be a better long term investment than the supply of food, water and health? These are what everyone in the world needs on a daily basis, just like energy but on a far bigger scale. Hand all of this supply to the private sector and the potential market is huge and growing.

Greens oppose this commercialisation of the basic needs of people. For us, the supply of the essentials of life, food, water, energy, health and education, should be under public democratic control so access is not determined by personal wealth, but by need. Hand this supply over to the private sector then it will be driven by profit, not the needs of the consumers. Many will be priced out of the market in these services so that the rich and powerful can maintain their privileged positions.

Mike Shipley

Greens' Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

Greens’ Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

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Greens Question Government Claims on Fracking

Charlotte at Barton Moss farck-free camp

Charlotte at Barton Moss farck-free camp

Derbyshire Green Party has said that it finds no reason to be reassured by energy Minister Matthew Hancock’s statement that Government has guidelines on fracking that would “protect Britain’s great National Parks and outstanding landscapes”. They also ask why these guidelines will not be applied to all other parts of the country, where most people live. Hancock’s comments came on the day that the Government has announced a new licensing round for gas and oil exploration that covers large areas of the UK including most of the East Midlands.
Charlotte Farrell, the Greens Parliamentary candidate for the High Peak said that by issuing these guidelines the Government was admitting that even the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were now at risk from fracking. ‘The Government has announced that under what they call ‘extreme circumstances’, even the Peak District could be opened to fracking companies. Who, I would like to know, will judge these ‘circumstances’? I question the independence of Government advice on such matters with the Chairman of Caudrilla, a leading Fracking company, working as a Director of the Cabinet Office, advising ministers.’
The Greens also question whether the regulations that the Government say will control any possible adverse effects of fracking, are really so strong. ‘When this Government came to power in 2010, they boasted that they would have a ‘bonfire of regulations’, Charlotte said. ‘These include the downgrading rules on hazardous waste, on air pollution, on degrading land and on noise, some of the very problems associated with fracking. In addition this Government has slashed the funding and staffing of the bodies that have the responsibility to regulate fracking, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.
‘As if all this wasn’t enough concern, this Government is a supporter of the little heard of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] that is being negotiated between the USA and the EU. If this deal goes ahead, the fracking companies will be able to challenge any regulations that they claim affect their profits. Any action to limit the licensed companies activities, even if taken to protect our health, safety or the landscape could lead to very expensive lawsuits against the Government that we, the taxpayer will have to settle. Greens will stand firmly with communities who rightly oppose fracking. The only beneficiaries of this damaging technology will be the already very rich corporations who will sell off any gas they find gas to the highest bidder.’

The Carbon Bubble

In 2010, the Climate Change conference in Cancun adopted an agreement that carbon emissions should be limited so that the rise in global mean temperature should not exceed 2°C. In addition, it was recognised that this rise might need to be reduced to 1•5°C. Although the sceptics didn’t notice, that conference accepted the science of Climate Change. What it didn’t do was to understand the economic implications of restricting temperature rise. It’s not simply calculating the cost, Nicholas Stern did that, it’s around 2% of global GDP and rising. We now have to understand the grip carbon assets have on the global economy and find ways of loosening it.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305If we are to limit temperature rise to 2°C, the Potsdam Institute has calculated that global carbon emissions in the period 2000 to 2050 will need to be limited to 884Gt CO². In the first eleven years of this century, thanks to the inaction of political, economic and business leaders, the world has emitted 321 GtCO², leaving a carbon budget of 565 GtCO² up to 2050. At present, despite the global recession, emissions are rising and the 2°C carbon budget will have been ‘spent’ by 2027. After then, we leave the 2° world and enter 3°+. At the last Climate Change conference in Durban in January, there was a behind the scenes acceptance that we will have to adapt to 3°C of warming, and probably more. That is not a comfortable prospect and millions of people will suffer as a consequence.

The reason why global leaders find it so difficult to implement the policies that will limit temperature rise to less than 2°C is not due to scepticism but because the global economic structure is built on unsustainable practices and resources, notably carbon based fuels. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C or less requires a switch to sustainable practice, and a switch away from fossil fuels. We know this, so why isn’t this happening?

A report called Unburnable Carbon, by the Carbon Tracker Initiative showed that the top 200 oil, coal, and gas companies have reserves that will emit 745 GtCO², these reserves represent their market value, and the market naturally assumes that these fuels will be burned. In addition, these companies continue to prospect aggressively, needing to replace reserves that underpin share price. Around 50% of the valuation of a fossil fuel company lies in its declared reserves. When Shell announced a 20% reduction in its reserves its market value fell by £3 billion in a week. Naturally, these companies try to secure new finds as a buffer to maintain their value, profits and dividends. In the oil and gas sector, this now means ‘unconventional’ sources like tar sands and shale gas. To finance these explorations, investors continue to pour money in to the carbon sector, assuming that this investment will yield burnable reserves that will secure a return on their investments.

Exactly how much carbon, and therefore warming potential, private companies have on their books is difficult to estimate because of confidentiality. Further, the private sector accounts for only about one third of global carbon stocks, add in state enterprises and total reserves would yield 2,795 gigatonnes. Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors has estimated that if all proven and probable oil and gas reserves are burned, CO² levels will rise beyond 700ppm, leading to 3.5°C to 5°C of warming. Add in the proven coal stocks and the planet becomes uninhabitable.

The problem lies not with science but with economics, and all the human failings that are associated with it. The world economic system is built on carbon. This is not simply our reliance on carbon fuels to drive economic activity; global assets are built on the value of fossil fuel companies. Between 20% and 30% of the value of the London Stock Exchange is based on fossil fuel. Fund managers invest heavily in fossil fuel companies, seeing them as a safe haven for investment with above average returns in the short term. The funds invested in fossil fuel assets include pensions, life assurance schemes, and personal savings plans. A majority of people in the western world have their future security tied to the fortunes of these carbon rich companies. We are indeed all in this together.

If we are to restrict the rise in average global temperature to less than 2°C, the rate of burning of fossil fuel will have to be restricted. Sequestration technology is not going to be ready in time. To achieve this target, only 20% of known reserves can be burned over the next 40 years, and this might have to be reduced further if feedback loops begin to kick in. That means that 80% of the assets of fossil fuel companies are un-burnable. None of the unproven and unconventional reserves that are now being prospected for at great expense can be burned. There can be no return on the investment in 80% of reserves and in all new prospecting. This is the carbon bubble. Depletion of fossil reserves isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that they can not be used if we are to save the planet from dangerous climate change. The wealth of some of the worlds biggest and most powerful companies, and therefore of stock exchanges, is based on an unusable asset. If these companies had to devalue their reserves by 80% the carbon bubble would burst – remember what happened to Shell with a mere 20% downgrade.

The heavy investment in carbon assets also explains the reluctance of governments to back renewable energy. Renewables coupled with efficiency measures can replace fossil fuels, and without nuclear power. 120px-EnergiaberriztagarriakWith a range of technologies like wave power waiting in the wings, existing technologies can more than cope with efficient demand. But if governments promoted these technologies, the value of carbon rich companies would decline. It isn’t just scepticism that stops the deployment of renewables, or that stops agreements to limit temperature rise, it’s vested interests and their control over the political process. We can suppose that those who profess scepticism, like many MP’s of the ruling Coalition, have heavy investments in carbon rich assets.

Denial of climate change is a smokescreen that hides the real denial that lies at the heart of global economics: the denial of long-term consequences. Economics does not think in the long term, profit today is the mantra, tomorrow is somebody else’s problem. Greens keep focusing on the scientific argument, refining their arguments with ever more facts, trying to convince the so-called sceptics with the sheer weight of the evidence. Apart from the lunatic fringe, most of these sceptics may well accept the science, however, they are not interested in science and statistics, what they are interested in is how they maintain their position of wealth and privilege in a warming world.

There are ways to break out of this carbon strangle hold. To do so we need:

 political action to require long-term accounting.
 investors to take the decision to begin the switch to low carbon assets.
 everyone who can afford it, to accept lower returns in order to secure the only long-term investment that matters: the future health of our planet and all who live on her.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King has responded to the concern expressed by Carbon Tracker and others and is considering whether over exposure to carbon assets represents a risk to market stability. A small step and it remains to be seen whether investors will similarly take note. However, a globalised economy needs international agreement to require climate change to be factored into market valuation. The markets will not do this until it is too late.

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_nA strong political lead is required. We can help this process by being informed about the dangers of another asset bubble bursting, by being aware of our own exposure to this danger, and by demanding effective preventative action. We can also work to help the Greens promote a new, low carbon and sustainable economics.

Mike Shipley
First published 17/3/12

A Concerning Trade Deal: TTIP

By Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

I would like to raise an issue which should concern all parties in the European elections.

I have emailed all East Midlands candidates about trade deals which are giving more power to big business at the expense of people and the environment.

War on Want is asking voters to ask candidates to sign a pledge to say that, if elected as an MEP, they will stand up for trade and investment rules that serve people and the environment and take back power from the corporations.

The main concern is with Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which allow companies to sue governments. The tribunals take place behind closed doors.

According to the United Nations, in 2012, investor-state tribunals decided in favour of the investor in 70% of such disputes, ordering taxpayers to pay billions in compensation.

In the light of climate change, I am particularly concerned about the power that corporations have been given by ISDS to opt out of responsibility for damaging our environment.

For example, Chevron was ordered by an Ecuadorian court to pay $18 billion (US) to clean up contamination in the Amazon rainforest. Chevron is trying to avoid taking responsibility by using ISDS.

A Swedish energy firm is seeking $3.7 billion from Germany because the German government took a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy and a US company is suing Canada for $250 million (US) after the country imposed a moratorium on fracking because of environmental concerns.

If the UK Government sets up deals with fracking companies, will the taxpayer have to compensate the companies if a future government decides to ban it?

If a future government, in the light of rising sea levels and increased flooding, decides not to go ahead with the proposed nuclear power station in Somerset, will the taxpayer end up having to compensate EDF and the Chinese investors?

The EU’s current negotiations with the US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – will include ISDS.

At present, the UK Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives companies much greater access to the provision of NHS services.

If a future UK Government decided to change this, the ISDS clause would mean the Government could be at risk of being sued by the powerful US health industry. This would be disastrous for the people of the UK.

If we are to return power to the people and their elected representatives, MEPs must reclaim the power from big business and ensure that trade benefits people and the environment, and not just corporations and shareholders.

First published in the Derby Telegraph

 

Fracking on Trial

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305

Speaking after the first day in court, Caroline said:

“We were moved by the support shown for us at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday and I would like to thank everyone who wrote and tweeted in support. I am pleased that this has put the focus firmly on the dangers around Fracking.

To avoid catastrophic climate change we need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy, matched with policies to keep the majority of known fossil fuels in the ground. The window for action is closing fast.”

Today, we are calling on the Prime Minister to redirect the billions of UK fossil fuel subsidies into flood relief and adequate flood protection.

Add your voice to Caroline’s and the other protesters by taking action today.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46629&qid=1556466

If you want to learn more about fracking and how you can help prevent runaway climate change each day we will share more ways you can take action here.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46638&qid=1556466

Getting the Fracking Facts Right

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACharlotte Farrell in the Hope Valley speaks about her concerns about Fracking.

Open Letter Against Fracking

Subject: Unconventional fossil fuels / Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive & other projects from the European Institutions

kat-gp-1

Kat Boettge – Candidate for the European Elections

The Green Party is the only party opposing Fracking.  As some of you may know the European Commission is to announce non-binding guidance for the shale gas industry this Wednesday 23rd January, 2014. This is very bad news for our campaign against fracking.

In protest over the Commission’s stance and the lack of leadership on this issue from the EU in general, East Midlands Green Party and Derbyshire Green Party have signed an Open Letter along with some 290 civil society groups and NGOs who have outlined their concerns in a joint open letter to the EU institutions.

The letter states that many groups of concerned citizens and environmental organizations are against the development in Europe of unconventional fossil fuels (UFFs) and are concerned about the multiple and unavoidable impacts on the environment, on climate, on people’s health and on a number of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

It goes on to state the main reasons why we oppose this industry; one of which is that the extraction of these hydrocarbons will worsen our GHG footprint and will divert or even jeopardize European energy and climate objectives.

Instead of moving away from fossil fuel energy sources, developing more sources of renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency policies, this industry would lock us into another dirty fossil fuel cycle.  You can find the full version of the letter here.  

You can hear more of our concerns on The Sunday Politics show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esjNP_Acwi4&feature=youtube_gdata

Katharina Boettge – Green Party Candidate for the European Elections

Political Point-scoring won’t solve the energy bill crisis

East Mikat-gp-1dland Green Party candidate in the European Elections, Katarina Boettge has accused both the Coalition and Labour of “political point-scoring” in the energy bill debate to duck the real problems.  She claims that meaningful measures to address the problems of cold homes, fuel poverty, and soaring bills are being sidelined.  As a result she claims that 1.5 million children are being brought up in cold homes and that more people in the UK are struggling to pay their energy bills than any other European country than Estonia.

The Green Party is calling for a major nationwide programme to make all homes energy efficient.  They want this funded through ‘recycled’ carbon taxes, saying that this could bring an estimated nine out of ten homes out of fuel poverty, quadruple carbon savings, and create up to 200,000 jobs across the UK.

Ms Boettge said: “It’s a scandal that the big energy companies are making large profits, which doubled between 2008 and 2010, whilst many people are struggling with high bills and cold homes. 

The Government’s own advisers are saying that the reason that bills have been rising is because of the wholesale price of gas and not because of Green Tariffs.  These, if properly used for home insulation will help households reduce their energy use and therefore their bills.

‘We need a nationwide programme to make all homes super-energy efficient – with full insulation, modern boilers, and renewable energy sources.  These measures could save households up to £500 per year, far more that any of the other Parties are offering with their short term measures.’

 

Nuclear Legacy – When will they ever learn?

ButterflyI have just read a report that the Fukushima leak is much worse than we were led to believe.  The Japan News / October 3, 2013 reported that the former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizume, said that Japan should abandon nuclear power.    In his speech in Nagoya he said “I’m calling for zero nuclear power … The 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered a nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, should be taken as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society without nuclear power”

Since the reactor cores melted down in 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has been struggling to deal with the consequences.   In August this year, the Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale after Tepco admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

According to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23779561) Dr Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has examined the waterButterflys around Fukushima and is quoted as saying:   “Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop a ground water flow”.  

It won’t happen here – You might think that what happened in Japan can’t happen in the UK.  But according to an article in the Guardian, as many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change.  Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/07/uk-nuclear-risk-flooding

The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.  According to David Crichton, a flood specialist and honorary professor at the hazard research centre at University College London, sea level rise, especially in the south-east of England, will mean some of these sites will be under water within 100 years.

Radioactive waste, especially “high-level waste” is one of the biggest problems the nuclear industry faces.  No man-made container can survive the tens of thousands of years it will take for high-level waste to decay to safe levels.  No country has yet implemented a long-term solution to this problem, although Finland and the US have plans to build repositories deep underground in areas identified for their geological stability. This solution is one of those under consideration in the UK. 

ButterflyThe Government’s proposal to build more nuclear power stations is leaving a dangerous legacy for future generations.  It is inevitable that radioactive waste will leak into ground water at some point over the thousands of years that it will take the radioactivity to decay to safe levels.  And to top it all, the Government also wants to add fracking to its bag of risks!

Green Party policy is against building new nuclear power stations and in favour of investing in sustainable renewable energy.  Some people complain about wind farms and solar panels being a blot on the countryside.  Personally, I would much rather live with a wind or solar farm on my doorstep than an unseen risk of radioactive or polluted water under my house, or even worse, like the residents of Fukushima and Chernobyl, to have to leave my house and all my possessions behind in a radioactive wasteland.  If in 50 years time a better/cheaper way of creating sustainable energy is found then it would be easy to take down the wind pylons and take out the solar panels.  There would be no lasting damage to the countryside.   The same cannot be said for nuclear power plants or fracking sites. There would still be a lasting risk and an ongoing need to contain the unseen for thousands of years.

I was inspired to write the following poem when I read about the mutations in butterflies caused by exposure to radioactive material released into the environment from the Fukushima disaster.

Butterfly’s Wings

Blue butterfly’s mutated wings
Fukushima’s legacy sings
Sea levels rise on Britain’s shores
Posing threats to nuclear cores
Nature’s powers of erosion and flood
Hammer the nuclear ark’s hot crud
 
Sanctum’s sought for a deadly stash
Cathedral for a cryptic cache
Miles of aisles in underground tomb
An epoch-lasting toxic womb
To trap a nuclear god obscene
Behind bare hermetic chancel screen
 
One slight fault in this granite vault
Leeching life-blood is hard to halt
Slowly seeping, creeping unseen
Seeking subterranean streamButterfly
Filtering up through strata’s blue veins
Earth-changing ripple of a butterfly’s wings

© Jean Macdonald

Helen Caldicott, a long standing opponent of Nuclear power, has a very interesting site on this subject:   http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/categories/fukushima.html 

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

Top Ten Reasons to say NO to Fracking

balcombe-fracking

Photo from Brighton and Hove Green Party website

The Green Party is the only Party standing against Fracking.

John Youatt is a member of Derbyshire Green Party and a retired planner and former minerals officer.  He stood in the Derbyshire County Council elections.  He pledged to fight any proposal to approve fracking for gas, which he believes is against the interests of the people of Derbyshire and of our planet.

John has stated ten good reasons why fracking is not the way forward:

  1. It adds to carbon poisoning of the atmosphere globally in breach of EU and UK commitments
  2. Diverts from investment in renewables and breaches the coalition agreement on renewables
  3. Will leak methane CH4 into the atmosphere 30 times more deadly than CO2
  4. Poisons ground waters with undeclared chemicals
  5. Is economically unproven
  6. Demands water resources we don’t have
  7. Generates lorry movements that have not been quantified
  8. Will if carried through destroy thousands of acres of landscape and wildlife
  9. What public support there is is based on mis-information from media and Government that is too close to the industry
  10. Will reduce house prices around every site proposed by far more than the fudged offer of compensation

GIVE A FIRM “NO” TO FRACKING – Please help by signing the Green Party petition http://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=3

Photo is from Brighton and Hove Green Party www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/

True Eco Scandal – A Coalition of Wealth is undermining the Green Economy

The right wing press’s animosity towards renewable energy has now extended to the whole idea of the green economy, judging by an article in the Daily Mail.     We might have thought that in true patriotic style they might rejoice at the prospects of energy self sufficiency based on home grown, British owned manufacturing businesses, commercialising the world-leading researches of British Universities.  The fact that they don’t is, we might presume, due to the heavy exposure of the paper’s proprietors to carbon investments that would be under threat if renewables began to undermine the supremacy of fossil fuel.

You can read what they say here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362762/The-dirty-secret-Britains-power-madness-Polluting-diesel-generators-built-secret-foreign-companies-kick-theres-wind-turbines–insane-true-eco-scandals.html

In its latest broadside against wind energy, the Mail reveals that thousands of ‘dirty diesel’ generators are being deployed ‘in secret’ to back up the grid when ‘the wind fails’.  In order to give this claim credibility the paper over estimates the contribution of wind power to the grid. It states that 10% of electricity is gen120px-Energiaberriztagarriakerated by wind where as the real figure is nearer to 5%.  What they are doing is using ‘wind’ as a euphemism for ‘renewable’, a polysyllabic word deemed incomprehensible to their readership. They also claim that the Government plans to increase this to 25% by 2020.  They may have inside information on the thinking of the Government, but in truth the EU Energy Directive requires the UK to source 15% of its energy from all renewables by 2020.  Note this figure is for energy and not just electricity, it might be the case that the % of renewable electricity is raised to compensate for the current difficulties in supplying renewable fuels.

The Mail reveals this ‘secret network’ of generators as ‘STOR’, the Short Term Operating Reserve. On its far from secret website the National Grid explains why it needs  STOR: At certain times of the day National Grid needs reserve power in the form of either generation or demand reduction to be able to deal with actual demand being greater than forecast demand and plant breakdowns.  That is, demand surges like at half time in the Cup Final, or when there is an alert at a nuclear power station, there is no mention of the wind.

Another reason why many public and private bodies are installing diesel generators is over fears of cyber-security. As the sales blurb for Power Continuity Systems Ltd says, ‘The security of supply can no longer be taken for granted ‘.  This company has been providing energy backup for decades and they are responding to fears over cyber attacks on power utilities rather than the risk of calm days.  The now infamous Stuxnet virus was targeted on a control system made by Siemens that is used to manage pipelines, energy grids and nuclear power stations.  Globally more than 45,000 companies have been affected.  It is not surprising that companies and bodies like the NHS are installing back up power systems to protect valuable hardware, processes, and in some cases lives. There is also concern that the sun is entering a new active phase, big solar storms can knock out electric grids as happened in Canada in 1989.  Installing off-grid backup is prudent.  What we need is a way of doing this that doesn’t use ‘dirty diesel’; solar panels and battery storage for example. 

The variability of wind has been a fall back argument for the anti wind lobby for many years, and in 2009 the National Grid answered this argument in its consultation report Operating the Electricity Transmission Networks in 2020 .  In this report they demonstrated that the grid could be successfully operated with a major contribution from renewable, including wind, without the need for extensive fossil fuel backup.  We presume that the National Grid knows what it is talking about.

In its crusade against wind, the Mail cites a report written for the Global Warming Policy Foundation that says that it would be much cheaper to meet our Carbon Reduction targets using gas generators.  Well now they would wouldn’t they.  This is a climate sceptic organisation operating from a room in the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, headed by a Social Anthropologist and Chaired by Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s Chancellor in the 1980’s boom and bust days.  Hardly experts on Climatology, this group will be campaigning hard for fracking, and since they don’t accept that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, they won’t see the idiocy of trying to meet our Climate Change obligations by using fossil gas.  Their report claims that using wind to meet this obligation will cost £124Billion by 2020 where as using gas generators will only cost £13 Billion.  The only problem with the calculation of costs is that the figure for gas generation does not include the cost of the gas!  As we humble payers of gas bills know, gas is not cheap, and frack-gas will be expensive because of the high costs of extraction. And no mention of what happens when the gas runs out, doubtless they will turn to nuclear, another option mired in dodgy accounting.

The article then tries to scare its readers off wind with the noise scare, citing a 1989 study from America that it claims has been buried  by the industry.  Buried largely because it has become irrelevant, since it was referring to the old generation of turbines operating in the USA in the 1980’s.  In 1994 the Scottish Office published figures for noise levels for turbines operating in the UK.  This gave the noise level from a wind turbine at 350 metres as 35 to 45 dB[A], equivalent to the ‘noise’ of the rural night-time background, 20-40 dB[A] and that of a quiet bedroom, 35 dB[A].  Since then turbines have become quieter.

Warming to its anti-green rant, the Mail continued in the same article to denounce the Green Economy, claiming that Ministers – by whom they mean the Liberal Democrat component of the Cabinet – have made a £100 Billion mistake in calculating the value of the Green Economy.  The Government claims that this is worth £122 Billion, and the paper claims that this is over inflated to justify handing out hefty subsidies to renewable energy generators in the form of Feed In Tariffs. I don’t quite follow this argument but their source of information to counter the Governments figures is interesting.  They claim to have obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act to show that the true figure is between £16 and £27 Billion.  The needn’t have bothered to use the Act, the information comes from a report from a researcher working for UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, and it is on the researchers climate sceptic website ClimateResistance. 

UKIP of course take a sceptical view of all things Green and we can’t put too much weight behind their analysis, but some of the points made are valid.  The Government does inflate its figures for the value of the Green Economy by including such activities as landfill and nuclear power. The Government has massaged the figures to give them bragging rightsin International conferences enabling them to claim that the Conservative way of leaving things to the market works and that State intervention is not necessary. We know that the truth is different. Because of under-investment and a lack of leadership from the Government, the UK green economy is seriously under-performing and we are missing a huge opportunity to boost sustainable employment and to create valuable overseas markets for the British low carbon manufacturing sector. 

PrintWe need a Green Economy.  It is the only sustainable economy that can deliver a good lifestyle to everyone while operating within the natural limits of the Earth.  Green economic policies do not focus on growth and wealth but on fairness and well-being for all.  Health is just as important as wealth, personal development as important as business development.  Right wing economics is not interested in fairness or the well-being of the majority.  Its total focus is on growth to make the already rich even richer and therefore more powerful.  Green policies will undermine the supremacy of wealth.  This is why the right wing press will broaden its attack to all aspects of Green policy.

 Mike Shipley

Brussels Biofuels Debate coming to a Head

Steven Roddy blogged on the RSPB website that “The next few months will be crucial as the European Union debates a change to EU biofuels law. We know how to fix this problem in a way that will stop the harm being done to nature and the climate, while still allowing innovative industries to bring new, genuinely beneficial, technologies to the market.”

The Green Party has been saying this all along.  Jean Lambert commented on the Climate and energy package back in 2009: Jean pointing 501234567“The adoption this week of the new climate and energy package has been hailed as ‘historic’ by some, but it remains to be seen how history will judge this week’s vote. … I sincerely believe that if it were not for the very strong presence of Green MEPs in the intense negotiation process the package may have completely derailed and the outcomes would have been much weaker.”

On 10 March 2013, Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s top candidate for the south-west in the 2014 European Elections stated  “The decision by MPs to continue to offer subsidies to crops that can be burned in power stations to create electricity is quite irrational and will cause more environmental harm than good.  … The fundamental problem arises because the government is allowing subsidies for industrial scale burning of biofuels, yet setting a low rate for the Feed in Tariff for new domestic and small-scale generators. This encourages the global market in biofuels rather than supporting local community renewables development.  Read more here:   http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2013/03/10/biofuel-subsidies-irrational-top-euro-green/

Why do Greens oppose biofuels?  In order to satisfy the world’s insatiable demand for fuel in the face of declining oil output and rising oil prices, huge areas of land are being turned over to growing fuel crops.  It is simply not possible to meet current demand for fuel oil with biofuels – there isn’t enough land.  Growing fuel crops in the absence of a determined push to reduce fuel use can only lead to biofuels being used as well as oil, leading to greater carbon emissions. 

Biofuels 800px-Greenpeace_biodiesel_demonstrationThe growing demand for biofuels is leading to massive clearances of land including tropical rain forest, as is currently happening in Indonesia, resulting in the choking smogs of Singapore.  These clearances will lead to the total destruction of rainforest unless strong action is taken.  With rising demand and high profits to be earned, we cannot hope for sufficient strong action to protect this vital ecosystem. 

Sugarcane mechanized harvest operationIn addition thousands of small farmers, the mainstay of local food production, are being forced off the land to make way for industrial scale biofuel plantations.  This will lead directly to the collapse of local food markets and therefore yet more hunger.  Diverting land from food to fuel is simply wrong and is leading to rising global food prices.  This leads to big profits for food companies and starvation for millions. 

A final objection to biofuels is that, on the back of the drive for more fuel crops rides a drive to use GM crops.  This is happening in Argentina, where the Government has been persuaded to embrace GM technology and in its drive to get into the biofuel market.  GM crops will become established in global agriculture, contaminating the whole human food chain with completely unknown consequences.  We also suspect that the biggest drive to develop biofuels is coming from the military, who fully understand the consequences of peak oil.

Every year the UK burns enough food crops in our cars to feed 15 million people. Following action from the IF campaign, for the first time ever, land grabs were put on the G8 agenda. Trial partnerships with a small number of developing countries were also agreed, which show progress towards preventing land grabs that leave poor people hungry. Development Minister Justine Greening also spoke for the first time about biofuels affecting food security.

459px-Rape-seed-field

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say – “Using food for fuel when millions of people are starving is wrong. But it’s not just people who are suffering because of the global demand for biofuels, nature is too.  What you may not realise is that the UK’s landscape is also changing and our green and pleasant land is becoming covered in ever more yellow rape-seed oil.”

How you can help – A key parliamentary committee, the Environment Committee, will be voting on the biofuels issue on Wednesday 10th July.  The RSPB are asking people to email or write to their MEPs about these concerns.  Read more and take action on the RSPB Community website: http://clicks.dbgi.co.uk/DC/ctr.aspx?6C6164=31393033303233&736272=$$EfwYGGq81T08EEE&747970=6874&66=30

Fair is Worth Fighting ForGreen policy does recognise that biofuels can play a limited part in the supply of liquid fuels in a post oil world, but they must be from either certifiable sustainable crops grown close to the point of use, or be from non-recyclable waste.