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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

The recent blog of Kitty S Jones, Labour Party activist and blogger, has left many of us rather shocked and dumbfounded by her lashing out at the Green Party. This is not new but simply stronger language than what Greens face routinely from Labour. Kitty S Jones claims that the Greens are somehow on the Malthusian Right because we point out the need for policies that allow us to live within our planetary resources and not cause hardship to the poorest, as will no doubt be the result of climate change and environmental degradation. She goes on to say that if the Greens were really green we would join Labour.

Labour still, shockingly, fails to recognise the social and environmental reality of climate change and the limits to what our planet can sustain. How long will it take Labour to accept this truth and stop its dishonest politics of pretending that it is taking climate change seriously? When will it address the social injustice that this failure will lead to? These are are just some of the reasons that Greens are not able to join Labour.

Still in thrall to the filthy rich?

Many Greens left the Labour Party for its failure to do anything significant to challenge the Thatcherite agenda and because it continued to entrench that system when in government: setting up academy schools outside the control of democratically elected bodies;  tendering parts of the NHS to private sector bidders; continuing with a tax regime that fails to redistribute wealth in our highly unequal society; allowing a free-for-all in the City; and tendering out prison and other services. (And that’s without mentioning the destructive Iraq war.) Labour seemed in thrall to the rich, the filthy rich that they were happy to hang out with and take money from. This was the Labour Party of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and, we must remember, Ed Miliband. However much we may hope for more from Ed, can we with our hands on hearts ever trust him?

Only the Greens have been willing to speak out about domination by the wealthy and big corporates – the Establishment as Owen Jones powerfully explains – and to develop alternative solutions. Labour’s mild scolding of its wealthy banker friends hardly caused a ripple. Only the Greens have argued for the break up of large companies, for state funding of political parties to diminish the political influence of the rich, firm regulation of banks, and to challenge the domination of a handful of media barons.

It’s clear that Labour are nervous. No doubt in their heart of hearts they know that they failed the people in their 13 years in government: failed to tackle the underlying inequality in power and wealth and the big issues that face the UK and the world. Perhaps it’s this guilt that hits them hard and leads to them lash out at the Greens, with their half truths and exaggerations. Jones returns to the old lies about the minority Green administration in Brighton Council and refuses to acknowledge that the Greens were trying their very best to fairly address an equal pay problem in the Council in the months before the strike.

If Labour really wanted change, they would attack the Tories not the Greens.  A stronger Left is needed if we are to make sustainable change, not the weaker Left that Labour seems to want.

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ecobuildA guest post for Camden Green Party by Elizabeth Block.

In the first week of March I took off on the DLR for my third successive visit to Ecobuild, the mega environmental fiesta of exhibition stands and seminars, now in its 10th year. I trekked across to London’s ExCel Centre, dreading it as usual only because it is so big, to be among more than 44,000 “sustainable environment professionals”. It was up three per cent from last year.

For me Ecobuild answers the technological “what’s possible” question and also the political “how can we make it happen” question. To me the answers to the former were great, inventive and exciting. On the second unfortunately there was little to inspire.

By way of exhibitors, you got hundreds of huge companies, excuse me, “solutions providers”, with huge and no doubt hugely expensive stands. Examples include Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Saint-Gobain, Baxi, Worcester Bosch, Mitsubishi and Travis Perkins, all pushing their green sides. But the event also makes space for a number of new “Green Shoot” companies. Most of these had much smaller stands and my favourite was HE Hydrogen which features “green hydrogen”. This means you feed in water and solar PV for electricity to get H2 out of your electrolyser. As you know, critics of H2 always stress the amount of energy required to make it, but if it’s renewable, hey, no worries. And the CEO, Dr Amit Roy, is experimenting with ambient pressure H2 storage to cut costs. Could this be a game-changer? Could this fuel all our cars? I hope so.

And amid all the roofing, plumbing, and building materials companies on the floor, it was nice to visit the Biodiversity Pavilion with its bat boxes and living roofs.

Paul King, Chief Executive, UK-Green Building Council, Ecobuild’s lead partner said: “Ecobuild has become the Crystal Palace of its day, the great exhibition where new products can be found and sold, and fortunes can be made in the name of green building.” This is a bit excessive, but not that much. And it’s nice to know that Ecobuild is expanding to other countries.

On the political side we had Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who took the opportunity to launch the government’s consultation on the future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). He also claimed to “have built a market” for energy efficiency in terms of technology and expertise. His deputy, Greg Barker MP, minister for climate change, turned up to announce a £19 million boost for the Green Deal by way of funding for six community based retrofit programmes. He also sought to reinvigorate the Green Deal, which we all know has not been a roaring success, by linking it to the new domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), due to start this spring. Actual achievements seemed thin on the ground. Let’s hope the RHI at least is a real success and helps join up technological potential with the incentives needed to make things happen!

But my feeling is that until we have the political determination to make things change, we won’t have as much progress as we need. For the Climate Week’s award which took place in parallel, Jeremy Leggatt of Solar Century won. But next time I’d like to see a politician take the award for setting up a scheme that works and has the big impact that’s needed.

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by Natalie Bennett

We had at our members’ meeting this week a great speaker from Frack-Off, the fast-growing campaign against “extreme energy”. They’re best-known for their work, as the name suggests, against fracking – yes that strange and destructive method of shale gas extraction that caused an earthquake in Blackpool, but also covering a whole range of other, possibly even worse, technologies, ranging from coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification (effectively setting fire to coal underground) –  and also including tar sands, mountain top removal and deep water drilling (of the type for which the UK has just provided a $1bn line-of-credit to the Brazilian state oil company).

This map shows the sites where activity is under way or with licences likely to be let  in the UK, but a map supplied on the night shows how a majority of the UK is under threat (the “under review” areas are where licences are being considered) ….


(Map by Paul Mobbs)

We did an interesting, if depressing, exercise, trying to rank the most significant negative impacts of fracking. These ranged from climate change to methane, heavy metals and other contaminants in underground water, to the industrialisation of the countryside and an average of 30,000 lorry movements for each well.

There is, however, a strong fightback going on, with Frack-Off providing help and support to strong local groups – and some of those who have been fighting back are now on trial (Follow #frackingontrial  on Twitter for the latest on that.) It’s pleasing to know that Caroline Lucas has made representations to the trial, saying non-violent protest should not be criminalised.

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by Natalie Bennett

At the Green Party women’s day in Cambridge yesterday, we heard a very interesting talk from Ro Randall, developer of the Carbon Conversations project, on “Feminism and the politics of pro-environmental behaviour change”.

She noted that there was a huge emphasis from government now on programmes to encourage behaviour change. “This is something to be quite cautious about. It removes attention from politics to personal situations.”

And speaking as a psychotherapist, she said the theories behind the government’s actions saw people in a rather mechanical way, and had a simplistic sense of behaviour change.

Participants at the Green Party women’s day in Cambridge (outside the lovely Trumptington Pavilion where the event was held)

Ro said the the average carbon emissions for each Briton are about 12 tonnes, while sustainability demanded 1.5-2 tonnes – the basis of the aim of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050. (In the US and Australia the individual average is around 24 tonnes, in India 1 tonne, Tanzania mayb e 100kg.) Acting individually, a single Briton was unlikely to get below 6 tonnes. “The rest has to come through decarbonisation of our energy supply.”

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by Rachel Zatz

The Rocket composting project, which is now called Foodloop, is now back at full speed. Volunteers from the Maiden Lane estate and the local area have taken over the running of this project. We now coordinate weekly food-waste collections and feeding and maintaining  the Rocket.

We are planning to market & sell our nutrient-rich end product – now branded as Plantify – which will eventually be our source of income. We are offering free supplies of this end-product to all volunteers.

We currently do food-waste collections on a Monday, which takes about 60 -90 mins from 9.30am. We ask volunteers to come once a month.

We are hoping to find mainly residents to feed the Rocket, a daily task that takes about 10 minutes.

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“There is enormous urgency behind the agenda as planetary boundaries are indeed being breached. If everybody in the world lived as we do in the rich north, we would need another three planets to provide the resources and absorb the waste. I hardly need to say that we do not have three planets; we have one, and it is already looking pretty degraded.

“It is important to state in black and white that there are limits to growth. I know that that is not a popular perception or idea, but it is very clear that on a planet of finite resources with a rising population and rising expectations, infinite economic growth simply is not possible.

“We could learn from some of the businesses that are already beginning to think about what it would mean for them to live in a steady state economy, rather than one that was based on more and more production and consumption.

“The time that we have in this Parliament—the next three or four years—will be critical as to whether we invest properly in getting off the collision course that we are on with the climate crisis. It falls on our generation to do that. It is a huge responsibility, but it is also an awesome opportunity.”

A full text of her contribution can be found here.

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by Charlie Kiss

Camden Council has received an application to hold an Irish music festival in Grange Park, Kilburn, from July 26 to August 12, when the Olympic Games are being held. This would be fine and welcomed by many people in Kilburn if this was a standard weekend festival, but to have a music festival for 18 days is excessive.

It seems like a blatant attempt to make as much money as possible from visitors to London during the Games, and there has been little thought about how this will affect the lives of local residents.

Grange Park is very small and not well know outside of the local area but it is immensely enjoyed by local people. Jogging, playing tennis, children playing, relaxing; there are not many green spaces in Kilburn but this is one and it is a treasured.

To have this park inundated by up to 5,000 people will place considerable strain on such a small area. Not to mention the noise late into the night. (With a licence up to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays!)

This will affect other people living and working in other areas around Kilburn as well of course.

To have your say about the plan write to the licensing team at:
Camden Town Hall Extension
Argyle Street
London
WC1H 8EQ
or visit: http://www.camden.gov.uk/licensing
and search for ref: APP\PREMISES-NEW01117

BY 12TH MARCH!

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