Category Archives: International

Across the world we are rising for climate justice

 

This weekend has seen people throughout the world take to the street to demand
effective action on climate change.climate1

Even in Paris, where demonstrations have been cancelled because of the state of emergency, thousands of pairs of shoes were arranged to represent those demanding action

Together, we are demanding that governments finally acknowledge that so far they have failed us. So many conferences have come and gone and emissions and temperatures have continued to rise. Despite pledges to end subsidies on fossil fuels, governments in many industrialised countries, including our own, have dramatically increased such subsidies and have supported technologies that carry a high risk of pollution, such as deep sea drilling, fracking, and extraction of oil from bitumen (tar sands). World wide, fossil fuel subsidies are at least 4 times higher than subsidies on renewable energy sources. The number is even higher when failure to internalise costs of environmental pollution are taken into account, as they were in the IMF report released in May 2015. That report estimates subsidies as around 10 million dollars per minute.

climate2

On Monday, another conference will start in Paris. Can we expect any better? Certainly not if we aren’t prepared to fight, to insist, to not let them off the hook. Pledges made by individual countries, so far would see temperatures rise by more than 3 degrees – a catastrophic result. The conference is promoted as “business friendly” and corporate lobbyists are present in force, where ordinary citizens are excluded.  We are promised business solutions, but, big business’ “solutions” for the climate remain basically the same: prevent any meaningful global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid any form of public scrutiny and regulation by pushing failed market-based mechanisms such as a ‘global carbon price’, and promoting various for-profit schemes and hazardous techno-fixes.

actnow

Everyone can do something. Just making our representatives aware that we are watching their response to the demand for real action on climate change. On Saturday, Green Party members in the High Peak constituency were out talking to people in Glossop, encouraging them to sign a letter to our MP, Andrew Bingham. Please download the letter and send it to Andrew Bingham, or adapt it to include your own concerns – or send a similar letter to your own MP.

Letter_to Andrew Bingham

 

 

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Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who cop21 gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change,  designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.

John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben –  addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:

  • Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
  • Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  • Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.

Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.

Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.

  1. The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
  2. The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.

Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.

He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

  • Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
  • A It seems that renewables have been too successful.  For example,  off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!

Fracking

  • Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
  • He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
    By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.

Stand up for climate justice

The Greek crisis is about Democracy not Debt

euro-373008_640It is interesting that Greece, the cradle of democracy is now having to defend that very concept in the face of an onslaught from the corporate masters of the global economy. With the Greek referendum vote, the issue in Greece has escalated from an economic crisis, to a crisis of democracy.

As Caroline Lucas has said:

“The Greek people have made a decision which must now be respected. This referendum has seen EU states do their very best to undermine the democratic will of the Greek people but it’s time to draw a line under the past and move onwards”.

We cannot argue that former Greek governments, both of the right and left, badly managed the Greek economy. The EU and international finance were complicit in making this bad situation worse by failing to ensure that further loans to Greece were used for investment and did not end up lining the pockets of the wealthy. But the neo-liberal ‘free-market’ policies that dominate world finance want and need debt and Greece was encouraged to increase its debt rather than address tax avoidance and increase Government revenue.

By crippling Greece with debt, international financiers have been able to force her Government to sell assets to the private sector. They have also ensured that the bulk of Greek revenue goes to debt repayment, that is, to the private sector financiers, rather than to the welfare of the Greek people. Debt has become a commodity; it is traded and used by the private sector to increase personal wealth. Neo-liberal economics needs debt to create money and wealth. By loading governments with debt the financial institutions can divert tax payers’ money away from social provision and state investment in to their own coffers as interest repayments. For these institutions, cfreating debt is good business and leads to hugh personal bonuses.

The Greek crisis is not really about debt but about repayments. Debt is now a corporate asset, if a borrower defaults, then the asset becomes valueless. This was the root of the 2008 financial crisis. If Greece defaults it is the big financial institutions that will be hit, and they are using austerity to protect their interests.  They are demanding that money that should go to support the welfare of citizens goes instead to themselves. So the people of Greece must suffer in order to protect the assets of the wealthiest institutions and people in the world.

The interests of money and international finance are being put ahead of the needs of people – this is a democratic crisis. What are Governments for, to serve the people or international finance?

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:
molly scott Cato2“This referendum has provided an opportunity for all EU states to reflect on the balance of power between finance markets and democratic governments”.

This isn’t just a Greek crisis, it affects us all. The Conservative Government is determined to continue with its austerity measures in order to pursue its privatisation agenda and to reward its supporters with tax breaks. Austerity is not about sound economics, it is an ideology driven by the neo-liberal free-market. It is being driven by the corporate sector that has effectively hijacked governments. The rich and the powerful are once again driving the political agenda in their own interest and are ignoring the needs and wishes of people. They are challenging the very concept of Democracy.

The Greek people have raised their voices and have demanded that their government listen to them and address their needs, as they should in a Democracy. There are solutions to the Greek debt crisis and part of that solution is to recognise that some of the debt is un-payable.

Caroline Lucas has pointed out that there is a historic precedent for this:
caroline-close“History shows us that countries can escape crippling debt in a just way. In 1953, at the London Conference, Greece was among the European nations signing a deal which allowed for the cancellation of German debt, to enable the country to grow again after the destruction of the Second World War. Europe needs to come together to offer the Greeks a deal which allows their country to be rebuilt.”

But the difference then was that the debt wasn’t a corporate asset; Governments weren’t controlled by big business. It is essential now for the Governments of Europe and America to address the debt crisis and to be seen to be standing for the interest of the people and not spinelessly bowing to the pressures of the global corporations. This is the demand from Molly and the European Greens:
molly scott Cato2“We now urgently need to see a conference to address the issue of Greece’s debt with restructuring and debt relief a clear outcome. There also needs to be clear support for rebuilding the economy, especially by investing in sustainable sectors of the economy”.

Further, we now need to see Governments acting as part of democracies, in deed and not just in word; to listen to the calls coming from their people for economic justice and for the gross inequalities in society to be leveled off. If they fail to do this, the global corporate sector will be triumphant and democracy will be effectively dead.

Mike Shipley

First posted on East Midlands GP Blog on 7 July 2015

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

Should Refugees be Rescued?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADerbyshire Green Party opposes the British Government’s withdrawal of support for future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean.

The Governments rationale for this, as with other EU nations, is that by continuing to rescue people it encourages more to risk the trip. Such a response shows the callousness of this Government and is unlikely to prevent desperate people trying to make their way to Europe, although it is likely to increase the number who die on route.

Refugees do not embark on such a journey lightly, but do so because the risks of staying outweigh the risks (real or perceived) of going. For what people spend on illegal journeys they could fund first class air tickets, but such routes are not open to them because the Government prevents safe and legal entries to those seeking refugee status in this country.

People become refugees for a variety of reasons, almost always related to the unjust and unequal distribution of power and economic prosperity across the world. In the Middle East people are fleeing from the effects of intervention by the West to protect its oil ‘rights’. In Africa people are fleeing from the effects of changing environment, a globalised market forcing people into poverty and wars which are a legacy of colonial borders which took no account of ethnic or tribal identities. We are all complicit in the reasons people become refugees because we have all benefited for so long from the existing status quo. We therefore owe it to these people to respect and protect them.

The Green Party recognises that the refugee crisis will not go away until we address the underlying causes and therefore its highest priority is the creation of a just and ecological world. In the meantime we believe that the UK government should fully honour the right to asylum enshrined in the UN declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Refugees. Withdrawing search and rescue missions to teach desperate people a lesson is an appalling act.

Charlotte Farrell
Green Party target candidate for Hope Valley in the High Peak

East Midlands Green Party Regional Conference 15th November 2014

It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Green Party.  Our membership has grown to record levels, and on November 15th, the East Midlands Green Party are holding our first Regional Conference.

EMGP_2014Conference_WebThe venue is the International Community Centre in Nottingham.   Admission is free but a voluntary donation of £5 would be appreciated. There is no requirement to book in advance.

New Members

There is a session for new members at 11:00 to help you to find your way around the Green Party and to answer any questions that you might have about anything to do with the Party.

Also, the local BBC network will be in attendance, and they will be looking to interview a selection of newer members, to help them to understand why people are joining the party. If you are a new member who would be prepared to be interviewed for this piece, please could you let me know as soon as possible, and I will ensure your details are passed on.

A Chance to meet 2015 Election Candidates

It will be a great opportunity to network across the local party, to pick up campaigning tips ahead of next year’s elections and to speak to 2015 Election Candidates.

If you are travelling from out of town, the venue is around a mile from the rail station, and is just over half a mile from the Lace Market or Old Market Square Tram stops. You can find Park & Ride details here.

It should be a fantastic day, and it will be even better if you can help us to make it so. On behalf of the EMGP committee, I look forward to seeing you there.

Steve Miller, Membership Secretary, East Midlands Green Party.

Green Defends Human Rights Act

This is the full version of a letter to the Derby Telegraph (pub 18 October 2014) written by Derby member Jean Macdonald to defend the Human Rights Act. She wrote in response to a correspondent who was following the anti-human rights propaganda of the right wing parties and suggesting Britain should “leave the EU to get away from human rights law”.

 

The campaigDefence of Human rightsn to denigrate the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the Tories determination to repeal it is madness. Mr Cameron’s demonising of human rights law marks a significant shift to the right and appears to be an attempt to fight off the threat from UKIP. However, the result of repealing the Human Rights Act will do incalculable damage to the country.

After the Second World War, the Council of Europe (CE) was set up to promote democracy and human rights in Europe. It has 47 member states with 820 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body from the European Union.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was drafted in 1950 by British lawyers and supported by Winston Churchill. Its aim was to ensure that no future fascist regime could lock up its own citizens or make them ‘disappear’.

The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). All public bodies such as courts, police, local governments, hospitals, publicly funded schools carrying out public functions have to comply with the Convention rights. Any person who felt his or her rights had been violated could take their case to the Court in Strasbourg.

In 1998, the Human Rights Act was passed by the UK Parliament and came into force in the United Kingdom in October 2000. The Act enabled individuals to take human rights cases to domestic courts rather than having to go to Strasbourg to argue their case.

Many “ordinary” people have had their rights upheld by the court. Public authorities in the UK – including hospitals and social services – have an obligation to treat everyone with fairness, equality and dignity. Through taking a case to court a vulnerable elderly couple who had been sent to different care homes won the right to be cared for in the same care home.

In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK was violating an individual’s right to privacy by holding fingerprint and DNA information of people who hadn’t been charged. At the time, nearly one million innocent people had their DNA or fingerprints on the database. The UK Law Lords had defended the police’s right to hold our personal information in this way and it took a European Court judgement for common sense to prevail.

What will happen if we remove ourselves from the court and laws that protect our rights in the UK? The only country in Europe not in the ECHR is Belarus. Do we want to join them? The UK is rightly proud of our tough stance around the world on human rights. Can we be confident that no future UK government will ever contemplate actions that will threaten our human rights?

As a member of The Green Party I am committed to the principles in the European Convention on Human Rights and to staying in the EU and working to reform it. I am concerned to hear of any party who is considering opting out.

Everyone can quote examples where money appears to have been wasted on ‘trivial’ matters but what the Tories are doing is highlighting a few decisions they dislike by the ECHR and ignoring all the good decisions that are made. This is nonsense and appears to me to be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Jean Macdonald

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

Is War an Important Tool in Resolving Conflict? Part 4

Material prepared for a 6th Formers Debate (in 4 parts)

Part 4 – War is a Crime Against Humanity

640px-Sculpture_silhouette_Armed_Forces_Memorial cropI do not want to wait until the next war comes along and do nothing in the meantime. I think Governments should talk to one another, discuss ways of abandoning war as a useless, wasteful, costly way of resolving conflict. I think Governments should work through the United Nations to outlaw war, give up armies, and work together for peace and the common good.

I think defence spending should be drastically reduced and populations trained in the ways of non-violent resistance. During World War 2 in Denmark and Sweden there was considerable success in undermining the Nazis by non-violent passive resistance. In Germany itself, during the last year of World War 2, there was a credible record of German citizens defying Hitler. We don’t hear much about it because vested interests want wars to continue. Surprise, surprise, many of our warmongering MPs and Lords have investments in weapons manufacture, oil and other commodities.

Governments the world over are concerned about oil security and food security. Already the conditions for more wars are being allowed to build up. Governments are still not taking Global Warming and the consequent Climate Change seriously. How long will it be before we ask our troops to line the beaches at Dover to fight off the hordes of poor people from Africa and beyond who want a share of the bounty we are greedily and selfishly enjoying?

There is massive evidence that the root causes of virtually all wars are economic. Before you decide how to vote today, remember that you and your children are the next generation of cannon fodder for the rich, privileged elites to use to protect their interests. War is never an important tool for resolving conflicts, it is disastrous, monstrous and only ever a sign of the failure of Governments to seriously work at building peace, co-operation and understanding.

According to the current Web Site of The Peace Pledge Union: “Human beings invented war, and human beings should make it obsolete. War, like a disease, can in time be eradicated; and that’s what we should be working to achieve. That means learning to overcome the conditioned belief that armed force is an acceptable way of dealing with disputes. It’s a human weakness, not a strength, to solve problems with cruelty, brutality and murder. As a species we have already matured enough for modern societies to decide that wartime atrocities are crimes; people can be arrested for them, tried and punished. Now we should realise that war is itself a crime against humanity, and grow wise enough to solve our problems another way”.

Note:   This material was prepared by the Rev’d Canon Donald Macdonald as part of his contribution to a debate for 6th Formers on the motion “In the year we commemorate the 1914-1918 war this house believes that war is an important tool in resolving conflict between nations”. His address is quite long and has been split into four parts which will be posted over four days.
Part 1 – A Parable
Part 2 – Lessons Not Learned
Part 3 – Violence Breeds More Violence
Part 4 – War is a Crime Against Humanity
Donald has been a member of the Green Party for over 30 years.

 

The Green Party position on War

120px-Welfare_Not_WarfareMuch international conflict today arises directly or indirectly from the abuse of power by rich Northern nations. So called ‘peace’ enforcement is preferred to conflict prevention and this helps to drive the highly lucrative arms trade.

“Defence” is the protection of homeland against attack and does not justify pre-emptive strikes against nations and organisations. Military intervention for peacekeeping or conflict prevention cannot be justified unilaterally, or outside UN control. It is irrational and immoral to continue activities that exacerbate threats to international and local security, yet this is what is happening with our military interventions.

The Green Party recognises that ‘terrorism’ is a loaded term often used in propaganda to justify attacks on desperate people. The underlying causes and sense of injustice that fuel terrorism have to be addressed. However, democratic societies need to protect themselves against those who seek to use terror and violence against them. Any measures to protect society should not undermine the fundamental values that shape a green society: inclusion, justice and equality.

For the Party’s full Peace and Defence policy go to:
http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/pd.html

Is War an Important Tool in Resolving Conflict? Part 3

Material prepared for a 6th Formers Debate (in 4 parts)

 

Part 3 – Violence Breeds More Violence

640px-Sculpture_silhouette_Armed_Forces_Memorial cropThe people who actually do the fighting are always the victims of inadequate funding – in the most recent war that this country fought in Afghanistan, the Army had the wrong type of personnel carrier, and the soldiers had the wrong kind of kit. In Battlefield conditions things rarely go according to plan. In both World Wars it was confidently assumed that a massive artillery barrage would soften up the enemies defences and make it a piece of cake for allied troops to march into German territory. In practice such bombardments rarely achieved their purpose and young, healthy, fit men went over the top, got entangled in barbed wire, and were ruthlessly cut down by enemy fire. The first time this happened- and maybe the second and the third, you could perhaps understand that the Generals hoped it would eventually work. In reality, in World War 1 the Army big wigs were still insisting on this madness four years after the conflict began, even though millions had by now been killed, shot down in cold blood – and for the sake of the gain of a few yards.

They carried on doing this in the Second World War. On D Day the German coastal defences were supposed to be virtually destroyed by allied aircraft, prior to the landing of thousands of soldiers. In most cases it did not work. Soldiers had to jump into the sea and swim into vicious and unforgiving enemy fire. It was only by sacrificing thousands of lives that eventually a foothold was gained.

It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war. The Ministry of Defence is notoriously secretive about casualty figures and is reluctant to even put a figure on civilian casualties. Fortunately journalists have compiled statistics based on casualty figures reported in the press. To use the recent Afghanistan War as an example, over 400 British troops lost their lives. But 18,000 Afghanis civilians were killed and some put this figure as high as 22,000. I’m sure they all think that war is an important tool in the resolution of conflict. In point of fact the real cost of the war in Afghanistan is estimated to be £37 billion according to the detailed analysis by Frank Ledwidge in his book ‘Investment in Blood’ (Yale University Press, 2013).

The sheer horror of war and the experience of it dehumanises the troops and leaves many of them severely traumatised. It took the Generals who lived in comparative comfort in French Chateaux during the Two World Wars a long time to take this seriously. Men who had volunteered, and even put themselves forward when they were underage were shot in cold blood for cowardice if they simply lost it and could not go on. Over three hundred British soldiers were shot by their own men. In the Vietnam War thousands of soldiers in desperation became addicted to drugs to numb their pain, and blot out the horror of what they were doing. In America today there are hundreds of Vietnam Vets who live with terrible injuries and mental and psychological damage.

The British Army has one of the better reputations for discipline and does not have a bad reputation for pillaging from houses and communities where they have conquered the enemy, or for raping the women of the villages and towns they have ‘liberated’; except in Kenya during the Mau Mau terror when British troops engaged in some of the cruellest and most vicious assaults on British subjects who lived in Kenya but were black and assumed to be on the side of the terrorists. Violence breeds violence and war breeds more war. Faced with a tyrant like Hitler a devout German Christian called Dietrich Bonhoeffer eventually decided in good conscience to support a plot to assassinate Hitler. The plot failed and 5,000 people lost their lives when Hitler ordered massive reprisals. Violence always breeds more violence.      To be continued…

Note: This material was prepared by the Rev’d Canon Donald Macdonald as part of his contribution to a debate for 6th Formers on the motion “In the year we commemorate the 1914-1918 war this house believes that war is an important tool in resolving conflict between nations”. His address is quite long and has been split into four parts which will be posted over four days.
Part 1 – A Parable
Part 2 – Lessons Not Learned
Part 3 – Violence Breeds More Violence
Part 4 – War is a Crime Against Humanity
Donald has been a member of the Green Party for over 30 years.  A statement on the Green Party position on War will follow at the end of Part Four

Is War an Important Tool in Resolving Conflict? Part 2

Material prepared for a 6th Formers Debate (in 4 parts)

 

Part 2 – Lessons Not Learned

The par640px-Sculpture_silhouette_Armed_Forces_Memorial cropable was a little far-fetched, perhaps, but it  enables me to expose the hypocrisy and callousness of the motion I am glad to oppose. I believe that war is a totally USELESS tool in resolving conflict between nations. Indeed, it is my conviction that to even describe ‘war’ as an ‘important tool’ is already granting war a legitimacy which it does not merit. To describe an instrument of wanton destruction, of legalised murder and an entity that is virtually impossible to control once it is unleashed as an ‘important tool’ seems to me to be both immoral and an insult to the countless millions of lives that have been sacrificed in its name.

Our warmongering Houses of Parliament, our elected MP’s and our unelected House of Lords, are so lazy, incompetent, unprofessional and so incapable of thinking outside the box of aggression as the ultimate solution to the world’s conflicts that when faced with a challenge such as what to do about ISIL they go for the easy option of war, rather than redouble their efforts at diplomacy, dialogue and the more effective use of the United Nations. This decision was taken while the nation is still in recession and massive cuts are being made to benefits, and the NHS. But incredibly no time limit has been set, and experienced military personnel have said that this war could last for years. Where, I wonder, is the money to come from?

There is nothing glamorous or heroic about war. War is about legalised murder. It took the Houses of Parliament a mere six hours to commit this nation to an unspecified period of war against ISIL, costing an unspecified amount of money and an unspecified loss of military and civilian life. And on what basis did Parliament decide that this time around, bombing terrorists would not achieve the same result as bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan, which many commentators think are precisely the cause of much terrorism. No lessons seem to have been learned from previous wars, of their failure to resolve any conflicts satisfactorily or without unpredictable and often disastrous consequences. I will show that this investment in war, this conviction that violence is the best way to oppose violence and that to kill is the best way to resolve conflicts is utterly useless, morally wrong and totally inept. It is the very opposite of an important tool.

One definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. That is precisely what Governments repeatedly do – and it never works. Do not imagine that Wars resolve anything – they always sow the seeds of the next conflict and always give birth to ever more terrible weapons. The so-called victors at the end of the First World War made such a total bodge of negotiating the German surrender they created the appalling economic conditions in Germany that made it all too easy for Hitler to gain power. At the end of the Second World War the victorious allies carved up Europe in such a way that the Cold War set in and all sides spent hideous amounts of money on developing weapons of mass destruction.    To be continued…

Note:   This material was prepared by the Rev’d Canon Donald Macdonald as part of his contribution to a debate for 6th Formers on the motion “In the year we commemorate the 1914-1918 war this house believes that war is an important tool in resolving conflict between nations”. His address is quite long and has been split into four parts which will be posted over four days.
Part 1 – A Parable
Part 2 – Lessons Not Learned
Part 3 – Violence Breeds More Violence
Part 4 – War is a Crime Against Humanity
Donald has been a member of the Green Party for over 30 years. A statement on the Green Party position on War will follow at the end of Part Four

Is War an Important Tool in Resolving Conflict? Part 1

Material prepared for a 6th Formers Debate (in 4 parts)

 

Part 1 – A Parable

 640px-Sculpture_silhouette_Armed_Forces_Memorial cropOnce upon a time there was a school. Actually it was two schools which had been merged. Unfortunately the merger never really worked and the two original schools remained rivals even though they all worked on one site.

As time went by the rivalry became worse and there were playground fights and after school meets at which the two sides fought one another. Pupils took sides and developed fierce loyalties to the old school of their choice. As a result fights broke out during lessons and even the teachers began to take sides depending on which of the original two schools they had worked in.

Eventually the School Governors decided to legalise the fighting and actually encouraged the pupils to fight one another to settle their disputes – not just till one or the other got a bloodied nose but to the death. This made fighting an important tool in keeping class sizes small. Indeed, whenever gangs formed in the school community they too were encouraged to fight – to the death. This made violence an important tool in combating rivalry between school gangs and legitimized playground fights.

Sometimes when two pupils were in the middle of a gun fight one of them would fire at the other and miss and accidentally kill a pupil who was not involved in the dispute. The teachers reassured the pupils that this was merely collateral damage and they shouldn’t be too worried about killing innocent bystanders; after all, fighting one another to death was an important tool in resolving conflict.

From time to time the Deputy Head would give the pupils a pep talk, encouraging them to keep fit, learn the most effective ways to kill one another, and be ready to kill or be killed the moment a dispute or argument arose. If there were no particular arguments or conflicts between the pupils the Head Teacher would organise what he called ‘War Games’ and the different classes in the school would fight each other until one was defeated, no matter how many pupils died in the process.

As a result the pupils developed increasingly sophisticated weapons, graduating from conkers and bows and arrows to knives and eventually guns. The school chaplain encouraged the school orchestra to play stirring marches at assemblies at which he would give out medals to the pupils who had killed the most in that particular week and the whole school would cheer and applaud them.

Understandably some of the pupils, particularly new arrivals, were extremely distressed and upset about the way their school was being run – in fact they were terrified and scared stiff. But if they refused to fight or take part in the violence they were lined up and their fellow pupils were commanded to shoot them in cold blood for cowardice.

In spite of all the dead bodies that piled up week after week the School Governors insisted that killing one another was the best way to encourage discipline among the pupils and an important tool in resolving conflicts in the school and that the pupils would be acting quite legally as it was school policy to allow them to murder one another.

The Governors themselves never visited the school or took part in the fighting; they simply insisted that this was the best way to deal with conflict. The Prefects at this school were expected to take command in a conflict and motivate the pupils and force them to engage in murdering one another until the conflict was resolved.

You might think that no parent in their right mind would even contemplate sending their child to this school – but the parents were told that the legalised expression of violence was an important tool in building character, instilling discipline and making their child into a really tough guy. Indeed, if a child showed reluctance about being sent to this school the parents would accuse them of cowardice and if the pupil had a girlfriend she would threaten to break off the relationship unless the pupil joined up and fought for ‘his’ school along with the others.

The school chaplain assured both sides that God was on their side and gave dead pupils an impressive funeral. As the bloodshed and loss of life went on the Governors sometimes wondered if there might be a better way; but nothing ever changed, they were all too set in their ways.    To be continued…

Note: This material was prepared by the Rev’d Canon Donald Macdonald as part of his contribution to a debate for 6th Formers on the motion “In the year we commemorate the 1914-1918 war this house believes that war  is an important tool in resolving conflict between nations”.
His address is quite long and has been split into four parts which will be posted over four days.
Part 1 – A Parable
Part 2 – Lessons Not Learned
Part 3 – Violence Breeds More Violence
Part 4 – War is a Crime Against Humanity
Donald has been a member of the Green Party for over 30 years. A statement on the Green Party position on War will follow at the end of Part Four

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/

Iraq: our military presence only makes a bad situation worse.

For the third time in 25 years, Parliament has voted to support military action in Iraq. The two conflicts have killed over half a million people, displaced four million and orphaned five million children. By any measure, Iraq is now in a worse state than it was before the 2003 invasion. There is civil war, the western backed government has no legitimacy among the majority of the population, real power is held by local war lords as in Afghanistan, another failed military intervention.

In recognition of the failure of military action in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, Parliament refused to back British involvement in the Syrian civil war. This conflict together with the sectarian policies of the corrupt Iraqi government, spawned ISIS, a brutal militia, armed and financed by governments hostile to the western presence in the middle east. Any engagement with ISIS will inevitably spill over into Syria where the Americans are already training and arming forces opposed to the Assad regime. No one knows the outcome, as in Iraq in 2003, there is no exit strategy.

Interviewed on Radio Derby, High Peak candidate Charlotte Farrell said that further military involvement would only make a bad situation worse and would further fuel the resentment many feel in the region to western interventions. Caroline Lucas was one of only 43 MP’s who voted to oppose further military involvement, joined in the ‘no’ lobby by Derbyshire MP’s Dennis Skinner, Bolsover and Tory MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills. The overwhelming majority won by the Coalition Government, supported by the Labour Party did not reflect public opinion. Despite the horrors depicted in the press of the actions of ISIS, 43% of British people oppose further military engagement.

Radio Derby’s political reporter noted that the timing of the Parliamentary recall suited the Tory party, giving its leader the opportunity to play big international statesman on the eve of their conference to cloud the issue of a ministerial resignation and a defection to UKIP. He reminded us of another Conservative prime minister, who in 1982 and facing electoral defeat, used a foreign policy adventure to drive up jingoistic popularity and win a year later. But cynicism aside, there are many good reasons why this new engagement should be opposed. We are endlessly told that the economy is struggling and that we must all tighten our belts. Despite this, close to £1billion was spent on bombing Libya and we can not suppose that this campaign will come any cheaper. This is about the sum saved by scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance, three times that saved by scrapping the disability living allowance. So our young people and disabled are having to pay for a military adventure that will solve nothing.

From recent past history we know that this action will further radicalise young men into joining the jihad against us. It will kill and displace yet more civilians, it will condemn more hostages to death, it will bring closer the time when Iran will feel forced to intervene itself. Military force will not solve anything, it will make a bad situation worse.

We have to do something, the whole region is in a state of collapse. As Charlotte said, we have to open negotiations, this can be difficult, talking to people involved in atrocities. But then we are now allied to countries that are brutal dictatorships. In August alone, Saudi Arabian courts ordered the beheading of nineteen people, mostly foreign nationals, this year it has beheaded six women, again mostly foreign workers.

In the light of the headline reports of ISIS atrocities, calling for talks seems an inadequate response. But Europe is the living proof that only negotiations can solve age old problems. In 1945, Europe lay in ruins, divided by generations of bitter hostility that had broken lives, displaced millions and brought the full horrors of war home to everyone. Something had to change to alter the course of events that could so easily have lead to yet more conflict, such has been the 2000 year history of Europe. The response by a few wise heads to the brutality of two world wars in a generation was to negotiate. Not as in 1918, the victors dictating to the vanquished, but as equals. The bitter enemies of just a few years earlier, joined together to find a collective vision to banish warfare, to allow their countries to cooperate in building a peaceful society in which people could flourish. This process led to the Treaty of Rome and the European Union. The dream of warlords from Charlemagne to Napoleon, of a united Europe was achieved without bloodshed, through negotiation among equals.

This is the only way forward for the Middle East and every new military campaign only serves to further delay the opening of these talks. They have to involve all parties, including Iran and Syria, including the representatives of the Kurds and on equal terms, Sunnis and Shias. The west and western interests can not dictate terms. Peace is possible and there is a profound desire among the people of the whole region and beyond to find this peace. But a small minority, protected from the horrors of war, see profit in further conflict, Iraq, broken as it is, is spending $1billion on weapons, good business for some. Weapons flow freely, from Russia as well as the west, earning great wealth and creating more markets. This is where the west’s action is needed, control international arms sales, stop fuelling the conflicts that are threatening to spiral out of control and engulf us all.

For more information, visit: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/

Derby March in support of Palestinians

On SaturdayGaza demo Aug 14 Derby 23rd August, three members of Derbyshire Green Party took part in a March and Rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) campaigns for peace & justice for Palestinians and had called for a national weekend of support. PSC represents people in Britain from all faiths and political parties, who have come together to work for justice for the Palestinian people.

Taking up this call, the March in Derby had been organised by Derby Peoples Assembly with the Stop the War Campaign, Trade Unions, and other groups.

Gaza Rally 001The rally had three themes:

• End the blockade of Gaza
• End the occupation
• Stop arming Israel

Two hundred people, including many children, gathered outside the Jamia Mosque in Normanton and then marched through Derby streets to the Council House. On the steps of the Council House we heard speakers from a range of organisations, unions and faith groups. These included the Imam from the Jamia Mosque, Derby North MP Chris Williamson, Councillor Ranjit Banwait leader of Derby City Council, a speaker from the Derby Branch of the Indian Workers Association, Peter Robinson from Derby People’s Assembly and Liz Potter from Derby Against the Cuts. John Youatt, an active member of Derbyshire Green Party, added his message of support.

John’s Message to the Marchers
John Youatt 7 cropI’m John Youatt, a Green activist.  In the 80s, I used to talk to my great friend and neighbour, General Peter Cavendish.  In 1948, as a rookie Brigadier, he took his new Brigade to Palestine. He was briefed to look after the nice Israelis and to ‘move on’ the nasty Palestinians.  When he got there he found the opposite applied.  He remained a friend of Palestinians ‘til his death. That’s why I’m here today.  I support Medical Aid for Palestinians financially. I hope you support direct aid according to your ability

I’m an active member of the Derbyshire Green Party and the national party. Greens are the only party of the five main parties to unequivocally support justice for Palestinians

I believe the clearances of Palestinians’ from their homeland and the subsequent sixty years of repression, is the main cause of friction between Arabs and the west.

The Greens have supported justice for Palestinians for many years, for example calling for an end to arming Israel and an end to the occupation.

On 5th September, at the Greens’ Autumn Conference in Birmingham, 90 precious minutes have been allocated for discussion. A draft emergency motion might go forward. See below.

The motion, if agreed, will urge more resources for our campaign.

For me, the heart of the matter is to help the USA Greens to change hearts and minds among young Americans. There are signs this might be possible. It will take years of determined effort and international support, but it can be done.

Start now, Vote green http://www.derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk
© John Youatt for the DGP

Draft Emergency Motion to Green Party conference September 2014

“Conference condemns Israel’s ground invasion, aerial and marine bombing of Gaza, and calls on Green Party and Green Party elected representatives to take what steps they can to put existing Green Party policy into action and to ensure that the underlying causes are addressed, acknowledging there can be no lasting peace without justice.
Such steps include:
• Reiterating our calls on the UN, the EU and the US government to ensure that Israel complies with international law;
• Supporting these calls by active participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. This campaign aims to put pressure on the government of Israel to end the Occupation and to give equal rights to Palestinians. The campaign asks individuals, organisations, councils and governments to refuse to deal with companies and institutions identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity.
• In particular to demand that the UK government halt all joint Israeli/UK military co-operation and approval for all arms sales to Israel.”

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

Image

European Election May 22nd 2014

Time to Vote Green Flooded cars

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

 

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