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Archive for March, 2011

by Natalie Bennett

An interesting and concerning meeting this evening organised by Friends of the Earth, chaired by Angela Mason, Camden Cabinet member for sustainability, and attended (briefly) by MP Frank Dobson.

The speakers were Louise Hutchins, Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace, who is also working with Stop Climate Chaos; Kirsty Wright, Senior Climate Justice Campaigner, World Development Movement; and Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser, Age UK.

Louise explained that Stop Climate Chaos is a coalition more than 100 organisations, representing more than 11m people. She said that the energy bill, expected to come before the Commons in late April or early May is the first legislative opportunity since the government came to office for a cleaner energy future. It came at a time when the government was at the point of making critical decision about carbon budget, which is set annually by an independent climate change committee. “The fourth budget recommendation is being considered by the government now. We hear that in the Treasury there are strong voices trying to block the budget, as they blocked the green bank investment in renewables recently.”

On the Energy Bill, she said the flagship proposal was a plan to tackle energy efficiency, particularly through insulation, what is commonly known as the green deal, but this didn’t go nearly far enough. “We need a warm home amendment. We want to see the condition of homes in the private rental sector significantly improved, and to make it an offense to let the worst-insulated homes after 2016.”

Additionally, there should be targets set for local councils. Wiithout those, only the best councils would take real action on reducing carbon emissions.

She added: “On the other elements you could consider it to be a dirty energy bill. There are proposals to make easier to get last drops of oil out of the North Sea, and it fails to include provisions, which were in the manifesto pledges of both coalition partners, to regulate emissions from coal powered stations.”
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by Natalie Bennett

Green Party member of the London Assembly Darren Johnson kindly attended our March members’ meeting, tackling the mammoth task of discussing the deficit and alternative Green Party approaches to it. (And he gathered with some members present for the obligatory photo…)
darren johnson with camden green party members

Darren explained that the Green Party accepted the deficit needed to be tackled, having gone into the last election with a fully funded manifesto that provided for cutting it in half by 2014 (incidentally the same as the Labour Party planned then, although not by the same methods!)

One key fact is that taxes need to be both fair in their levels, and need to be actually collected! He was able to give us a sneak preview of the campaign Caroline Lucas was to launch the next day against tax evasion – one important area of action.

The second plank of the Green Party’s plan is to ensure the rich, those most able to afford it, contribute more tax. Darren was able to explain how the London Assembly had that day passed a motion opposing the mayor’s call for an end to the 50p tax rate for people earning over £150,000. (The Green Party would bring that level down to £100,000.)

Then there’s the widely supported Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions.

The third plank is to cut spending – of the bad sort. The easy one of these is Trident nuclear submarines – £6-8bn per year, adding up to a total of around £100bn, and saving several billion through energy savings in government activities (with of course added environmental benefits).

There’ll be a lot more about this tomorrow at the joint north London Green Parties Alternatives to the Cuts meeting.

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Transition Belsize are organising A Big Green Night Out on Thursday March 31, with US political folk singer David Rovics: £5 on the door. Belsize Pesto made from wild foods will be served to all! Upstairs at the Sir Richard Steele pub, 97 Haverstock Hill, 7.30pm.

Camden Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Stop Climate Chaos are holding a public meeting on Camden’s Energy Future in Camden Town Hall with Frank Dobson MP on Thursday 31 March from 7pm. The principal topic of discussion will be the Energy Bill now going through Parliament.

The Gaia Foundation has a Spring Foraging Workshop on Hampstead Heath with Miles Irving, author of the Forager Handbook: Saturday April 2, 10am-1.30pm. Cost £30 includes local, seasonal, partly foraged lunch. Concessions available. And on Tuesday 5 April, from 6.30pm at St Stephen’s Church, Rosslyn Hill, Gaia host a talk entitled “Good Food for Everyone, Forever!” by Colin Tudge, founder of the Campaign for Real Farming
. Cost £12 (concessions £8) includes wine and light buffet. Bookings.

Want to find out about how you can access feed-in tariffs? There’s a council-organised event in King’s Cross on April 13.

The Camden Green Fair will this year be on June 4 and 5. More.

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There are four quality monitoring stations in Camden whose records are reported in real time on the London Air Quality Network site.

These are Euston Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Swiss Cottage and Bloomsbury.

Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, PM10 particle and sulphur dioxide are monitored (although that not at all sites).

Camden and London Green Parties are continually campaigning on these issues; air pollution is estimated to kill more than 4,300 Londoners every year.

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There’s lots coming up…!


Parks’ Day, Saturday March 19
: These are joint efforts between Camden parks officers and groups of volunteers in each of the parks. You’re welcome to attend to help, or just to admire the parks and see what is happening… (information from Camden council) Map of the parks.

St Georges Gardens WC1
11am – 1pm Improvements to this naturalistic park will include adding some colourful native flowers to one of the borders in the centre of the park. Four hundred new plants need to be planted so all help most welcome.

Cantelowes Gardens
1pm – 3pm
Join the friends for a fun day in the park involving some spring cleaning, graffiti removal and planting whilst meeting new people.

Maygrove Peace Park NW6
10.30am – 1pm
Wildflower planting in the children’s playground and planting in the raised planters outside Sidings Community Centre

Montpelier Gardens NW5

2 – 4pm
Enjoy some free salads courtesy of Greater London Farms, bring some seeds along to swap (an activity being run by Transition Kentish Town), check out the new community food growing areas in the park being run by Kentish Town Community Centre. Families are welcome and there will be face-painting together with drumming and singing workshops.

Russell Square WC1
11am – 1pm
Help our friends plant up 21 planters outside the café with new permanent plants for a splash of colour in the spring

St Martins Gardens
NW1
11am – 1pm
Give Camden’s wildlife a helping hand adding 600 new wildflower plugs to the meadow in the nature conservation area and find out what else the friends get up to in this hidden space in central Camden Town.

(And if you’ve got some garden space that you’re interested in sharing, please email gardenshare@transitionkentishtown.org.uk.)

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There was a huge turnout last night for the final chance to influence Camden council’s budget, with the CNJ’s Richard Osley estimating that 1,200 joined the march from Mornington Crescent, organised by Camden United Against the Cuts, and others joining outside the Town Hall.

We were of course there expressing Camden Green Party’s opposition to the cuts locally and to the economic approach of both the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition and the Labour Party.

And inside the chamber, Green Councillor Maya de Souza was expressing her opposition to Labour plans and minor changes proposed by both the Lib Dem and Tory groups.

(The CNJ has posted a preliminary report on the debate.)

Here’s a few of the banners we spotted (and that stayed still enough to photograph!)


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