Tag Archives: environment

If the long-awaited Environment Bill has to be delayed, why not use the time to make it useful?

Pollution: the Bill will contain provisions to improve air quality – but not in the immediate future, and the watchdog body it will set up is unlikely to have any teeth.

Do you think it’s bizarre that our government(s) tell us constantly that their actions are for the good of the country, but they always seem to postpone anything for the good of the planet?

The case in point is the decision to postpone, yet again, an Environment Bill that has been waiting for a reading in the House of Commons since 2018.

Campaigners say the delay will harm action to lessen air pollution and improve water quality.

Ministers say the delay is necessary because of the amount of time being taken up by the Covid-19 crisis.

Dispassionate onlookers might say this discussion seems pointless anyway, as Boris Johnson’s government has resoundingly failed to cope with the pandemic on any meaningful level.

The Bill sets out a framework by which ministers can impose new targets on vital issues like air pollution and water quality, waste, resource use and biodiversity, which were previously regulated under EU directives.

But the bill as it stands makes these into long-term targets, meaning direct efforts to cut pollution may be left in limbo.

If passed into law, the legislation will create a new Office for Environmental Protection – a watchdog body that campaigners fear will not be sufficiently independent or powerful under the current bill.

The bill also includes measures to ensure consumers in the UK no longer contribute to the destruction of vast swaths of forested land overseas, through new rules intended to stop the import of goods to the UK from areas of illegally deforested land. UK businesses will need to show that the products they source that could come from at-risk areas – wood, but also soy, palm oil, beef, leather and other key commodities – are from supply chains free from deforestation. Breaches of the rules will incur fines.

So all in all, the Bill looks like reducing, rather than increasing, environmental protections.

It seems to This Writer that, if it must be delayed, then this is an opportunity to do some background work.

I remember hearing that US president Lyndon Johnson used to do much of his work in the backrooms of Congress, persuading (I won’t speculate on his methods) Congresspeople to support his laws – or finding ways to make them acceptable.

Perhaps if the Tories currently working on the Environment Bill – Rebecca Pow is named in the Guardian report – spend the spring and summer polishing it up to ensure that there are quantifiable short- and medium-term targets, and their new Office for Environmental Protection actually has the clout to live up to its name, then the amount of discussion time in Parliament could be cut down, the Bill could sail through and everybody will be (belatedly) happy.

But that may be too much like common sense.

Source: Fury as long-awaited UK environment bill is delayed for third time | Environment | The Guardian

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Home Office ignored warnings to prevent Windrush suffering. Why isn’t this a scandal?

The Empire Windrush: if the people who arrived on it to help the UK rebuild after World War Two had known how they and their descendants would be treated after 2010, would they have bothered?

If at first you don’t succeed (in persecuting and killing people), try, try and try again seems to be the Conservative motto.

The Windrush scandal was a national outrage. Now we learn that the Home Office could have avoided harming people – but deliberately chose not to.

Where is the fury over this?

the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI) said the department had failed to implement a series of recommendations he has made since 2016 calling for better monitoring of the impact of the hostile environment.

“Had they been, some of the harms suffered by the Windrush generation and others may have been avoided,” said the chief inspector, David Bolt.

The Windrush Lessons Learned review, published in March last year, demanded a “full review and evaluation” of the hostile environment policy devised while Theresa May was Home Secretary – and current incumbent Priti Patel accepted the recommendation in July.

But Mr Bolt said ministers had done little to evaluate the measures, both in terms of the efficiency of the processes underpinning them, including the costs to third parties carrying them out, and their effectiveness in delivering the hoped-for outcomes.

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the hostile environment must be scrapped before “more lives are lost or destroyed”.

“Even the government’s own immigration inspectorate no longer has any faith that Ms Patel’s Home Office intends to fix the mess it has made of the immigration system,” he said.

Does anyone?

But this story seems to have been buried.

Do thousands more people have to be harmed, deliberately, by Priti Patel before we all wake up again, or are we going to let her get away with it next time?

Source: Home Office ignored warnings that could have prevented Windrush suffering, finds watchdog | The Independent

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Now Brexit has happened, will Boris Johnson backtrack on his promises and scrap our protections?

Daniel Hannon: he has also called for NHS hospitals to be sold to private US companies after Brexit. It makes you wonder whose side he’s on.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

They’ve already backtracked on their promise not to use a pesticide that kills bees (albeit admittedly in conjunction with other EU countries).

And they’ve cancelled our freedoms to travel to and from EU countries – deliberately making it especially difficult for musicians to work there.

So why shouldn’t the Tories follow Daniel Hannan’s demand and ditch the other protections UK citizens have enjoyed as members of the European Union?

Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said.

He wants to ditch:

the Temporary Workers’ Directive – which guarantees agency staff receive equal pay and conditions with employees in the same business.

the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that gives individuals control over their personal data and limits its transfer to other countries.

the ban on products made from genetically modified (GM) crops – potentially allowing US food derived that way into the UK, as part of a future trade deal.

the REACH Directive – to outlaw chemicals linked to health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and slow development.

the End of Life Vehicles Directive – to achieve environmentally-friendly dismantling and recycling, with targets for the reuse of vehicles and their components.

the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) – introduced to regulate hedge funds and private equity following the 2008 financial crash.

the ‘Droit de suite’ rules – that pay artists a fee on the resale of their works of art, instead of the American ‘first-sale doctrine’ that removes rights from subsequent sales.

“chunks of” the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – the legal framework to harmonise regulation of securities markets and trading venues.

He doesn’t say how that makes the UK more competitive.

To This Writer’s untutored eye, it seems he just wants to hurt his fellow UK citizens for no very good reason.

His plans would make the country less competitive as they are backward steps that help nobody.

Source: Scrap EU consumer and worker protections now Brexit is completed, leading Tory says | The Independent

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Sink, Britain, Sink: The Tories had six years to fix the UK’s flood defences and failed

Builth Wells: This mid-Powys town stood at a relatively high altitude – and under a considerable amount of water in February 2020.

The Environment Agency will have to resort to pumps and temporary flood barriers to ensure thousands of homes are protected this winter, it has been revealed.

According to the National Audit Office,

the Government awarded the Environment Agency £120m extra funding to repair [last year’s] damage, but the Agency will only complete 80 per cent of the work before the end of this year.

This means

one in five damaged flood defences will not be repaired in time for this winter’s stormy weather.

Oh, I know. There’s been a huge crisis to do with a pandemic disease called Covid-19 since the last floods, and it has been taking all the cash that’s available and slowing down maintenance work such as this.

That would be a good excuse.

But the simple fact is that successive Tory governments have had more than six years to stop our homes from flooding and they simply couldn’t be bothered.

To them, it’s a waste of money to take preventative action – even though the cost of fixing the damage is, cumulatively, far more.

I explained the problem in This Site, waaaaaaay back in 2014 [boldings mine, at time of writing this]:

This is a result of bad planning – by water and sewerage companies that have failed to implement successful drainage schemes or to divert floodwater from rivers in order to prevent overflow, and by planning authorities that have allowed housing to be built in the wrong place.

We live in a country where management of the water supply went into private hands several decades ago. When that happened, it became impossible to have any kind of integrated plan to deal with the supply of water, droughts, floods and storage. Water supply became a commodity to be bought and sold by rich people according to the golden rules of capitalism: Invest the minimum; charge the maximum.

So reservoirs have been sold off to foreign water companies, meaning we have no adequate response to droughts. None have been built, meaning we have no adequate response to floods. Concerns about river flooding have been neglected. There has not been the investment in extraction and storage of floodwater that repeated incidents over the last few years have demanded.

The government is reducing its budget for handling these issues. Not only that, but it is delaying implementation of a new policy on drainage.

In short, there is no joined-up thinking.

There will be no joined-up thinking in the future, either – unless the situation is changed radically.

Meanwhile, the cost racked up by the damage is huge – in ruined farmland, in ruined homes and possessions, and blighted lives. And what about the risk of disease that floodwater brings with it? The NHS in England is ill-equipped to deal with any outbreaks, being seriously weakened by the government-sponsored incursions of private, cheap-and-simple health firms.

Something has to give beneath the weight of all this floodwater. Change is vital – from commercial competition to co-operation and co-ordination.

Privatisation of water has failed. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Is anyone opposed?

It turns out that a majority were not. Reversing the privatisation of water and restoring a joined-up policy is supported by most of the UK’s voting population, according to polls.

In 2012, it was said that 71 per cent of voters wanted renationalisation. By 2018 this had risen to 83 per cent.

But millions of people voted Conservative at the ballot box so water has remained in private hands and the government has refused to stump up the cash to pay for what has become an annual – and therefore predictable – disaster.

The Environment Agency reckons it has a strategy to “build up the resilience of millions more homes and businesses” in the coming years.

What happens if the Tories strip away the funding for it?

Source: Damaged flood defences won’t be repaired in time for this winter’s storms

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How we can use measures to tackle COVID-19 to beat climate change

A guest article by Harry Fenton.

While governments across the world have responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented lockdowns and restrictions, there has been no urgency by them or the global community to address climate change – which is a huge threat we have known about since the 1980s and have had plenty of time to do something about it.

While COVID-19 is a short-term crisis causing many illnesses and deaths as well as temporary economic damage, climate change is a long-term threat to humanity and the planet which could cause lasting damage to both if we don’t get a grip.

Prince Charles rightly called for the same level of response to climate change as coronavirus at a WaterAid event in March but this doesn’t mean we need lockdowns, social distancing or travel restrictions to tackle climate change.

With most of us being told to work from home for social distancing, air pollution around the world has plummeted with far fewer people travelling every day – so we should encourage home working after the lockdown.

Now that many larger employers have adapted their IT systems to make home working possible in response to the virus, they could be required to let people work from home if their job allows them to.

Governments would be able to invest more in super-fast broadband, funded by cancelling environmentally destructive transport infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Not only would this permanently reduce air pollution, people would have more free time and save money from not commuting twice a day and they would have more control over their working conditions so this will improve quality of life for millions of people.

To reduce the need for personal travel even more, public and private services could offer virtual appointments to service users through video calling applications such as Skype, which are being relied upon as we follow social distancing guidelines.

They could be used for many professional appointments including medical consultations, financial and legal appointments and job interviews but we could go as far as using them for juries and witnesses in court and for people who want to see their close friends and family who are in hospital or prison but can’t be there in person.

If this becomes widespread, people would save even more of their precious free time and this would be less stressful for people going through difficult times as they could discuss sensitive matters from the comfort of their own home.

Another key measure many governments have used to enforce social distancing has been to shut down ‘non-essential’ businesses at short notice so, if they have the will to do this, in response to a serious threat, why can’t they shut down parts of non-essential industries that are major contributors to climate change?

On my list would be the “fast fashion” industry, worth 10 per cent of global emissions, where clothes are only made to last a season, single use plastics manufacturers and intensive animal farming which, apart from being inhumane, is the most polluting part of the agricultural sector, worth nearly 20 per cent of global emissions.

The shutdown of these industries would need to be done in a controlled way over a period of time to mitigate the effect on the economy, give those workers time to find employment elsewhere and give them the financial support and retraining to help them do that.

Closing those three sub-industries alone would significantly reduce global emissions and our environmental impact without affecting the needs of the vast majority of people.

Travel restrictions have also been a major part of Coronavirus measures across the world and though we will need some travel restrictions to fight climate change, they wouldn’t be anywhere near as strict and they would focus on the usage of certain modes of transport, not on people’s movements.

The main restriction ought to be banning cars in large towns and cities once public transport provision is significantly improved, as most people live in major urban areas and most transport emissions come from cars. Last year, almost 30 per cent of the EU’s emissions came from transport, 60 per cent of which come from cars.

We could also ban flights of less than 400 miles and ration the number of flights for personal travel to two return flights a year and the same for business travel. That way, we can cut the majority of transport emissions while ensuring that people in major urban areas can travel around, people can carry out occasional business flights if necessary and people can still go on foreign holidays each year.

Clearly, we can swiftly implement measures to combat climate change that are much more radical than those that have been implemented to date – without destroying the global economy and without a significant change in most people’s quality of life.

Not doing enough to combat climate change will, in the long term, damage the global economy and the quality of life of billions of people throughout the world.

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There is now a biodegradable alternative to the plastics that are clagging up our planet. But will anyone fund it?

Obsolete: There is now an alternative to this that is biodegradable. But will it get the funding it needs?

Watch this:

It needs funding to make it a viable alternative to the plastics currently polluting the world – and especially our oceans.

Do you think it will get any?

Further information is on marinatex.co.uk

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Johnson spits on democracy: he’s putting ousted MP Goldsmith in the Lords to keep him in the Cabinet

Zac Goldsmith: In this image, he appears to be trying to pretend he’s Hugh Grant in the new film Corruption, Actually.

Remember that racist Tory?

No, not Boris Johnson.

The one who ran a despicable campaign to become Mayor of London by making racist comments about Labour candidate (and now Mayor) Sadiq Khan, who was labelled “the Muslim”. Remember him?

His name was Zac Goldsmith. After his racist mayoral campaign failed, he went back to being Tory MP for Richmond – until he was removed from Parliament by the democratic vote of the people on Thursday, December 12.

Apparently that’s not good enough for our prime mop-headed muppet Boris Johnson. He has decided to ennoble Mr Goldsmith, in order to retain him as a Cabinet minister.

It seems that, despite having 365 MPs from whom to choose, Johnson can’t find enough supporters to form a full cabinet without spitting on democracy.

Either that or there aren’t enough racists.

It seems Mr Goldsmith will continue as Environment Secretary.

As a Lord and not a member of the Commons, it will be impossible for MPs to question him on government policies.

But he will be able to vote on all legislation. Does that seem right?

The Electoral Reform Society would say it doesn’t:

It’s cronyism. Johnson is surrounding himself with his gang, in mockery of his own claims to be creating a “People’s government”.

It’s perfectly in character, though – as I tweeted myself:

Source: Zac Goldsmith ‘to get Tory peerage so he can serve as minister’ | Metro News

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Activists fighting climate change have won cast-iron support – from the Terminator himself

Star support: Arnold Schwarzenegger with Greta Thunberg.

Even the Terminator can see that Greta Thunberg and the activism against climate change that she promotes deserve support – or at least the actor and former politician playing him can.

Arnold Schwartzenegger, former Republican governor of California, has spoken out in support of Ms Thunberg’s environmental activism.

It’s good to see the movement getting such high-profile support.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed his support for environmental activist Greta Thunberg, after he offered to lend her an electric car so she could get around the US.

The actor is currently doing the press rounds for the latest Terminator film, Dark Fate, alongside co-star Linda Hamilton, who reprises her role as Sarah Connor.

Speaking to Sky News, Schwarzenegger said that politics “gets in the way of good policy”, which he cited as the reason he now tends to steer clear of political commentary,

However, he made it clear he was a fan of Thunberg, calling her “fantastic” and adding: “She’s a child and here’s children saying ‘when you screw this up with the environment, it’s our generation that’s going to suffer’, and I think that’s a very compelling message and I think politicians are listening.”

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger praises climate activist Greta Thunberg: ‘I think politicians are listening’ | The Independent

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Diversion tactics: The ‘political declaration’ on Brexit is a disaster – why is nobody talking about it?

Hilary Benn: Why is he apparently the only MP demanding clarity on BoJob’s political declaration?

While MPs have decided to take the extraordinary measure of sitting on a Saturday to decide whether to support Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, it seems no-one wants to talk about a document that is just as dangerous: Boris Johnson’s political declaration, setting out the future relationship the Tory government wants to have with the EU.

Fortunately, Labour’s Hilary Benn has tweeted about it:

As I type this, Theresa May – formerly the worst prime minister in the history of the UK – is saying there should not be a new referendum just because people don’t like the result of the first. That is misleading.

The intention of any new referendum would be to ensure that the people of the UK are getting what they want.

The information trickling like molasses from Downing Street suggests strongly that we are not.

Is that why Boris Johnson wants to deny us the democracy that would provide clarity on this?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Worried about climate change? Then DON’T VOTE TORY!

Conservative MPs are more likely to vote for damage to the environment that causes climate change than against it, despite what they may say, according to this analysis by The Guardian.

They also take gifts from polluters, it claims.

Among the worst offenders was Tory prime minister Boris Johnson, who was among several dozen MPs – mostly Conservatives – to record the worst possible score of zero.

He was also among 10 ministers who received donations or gifts from oil companies, airports, petrostates, climate sceptics or thinktanks identified as spreading information against climate action.

The average voting score of Johnson’s cabinet was 17 per cent, compared with the Labour shadow cabinet score of 90 per cent – although the paper charitably stated that this could be because they are in opposition and unable to influence government decisions..

The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, scored 92 per cent.

The conclusion is clear: if you want a government that acts against climate change and to protect the environment for you, your children and future generations, you need to vote LABOUR.

To find out how your MP scores, visit this web page.

Conservative MPs are almost five times more likely to vote against climate action than legislators from other parties, a Guardian analysis of 16 indicative parliamentary divisions over the past decade has revealed.

The Tories also registered many more donations, shares, salaries, gifts and tickets to sporting events from fossil fuel companies, petrostates, aviation companies and climate sceptics, according to declarations made in the parliamentary record of MPs’ interests between 2008 and 2019.

The Guardian, in collaboration with the investigative environmental journalism group DeSmog UK, rated MPs from 0% to 100% based on 16 parliamentary votes since 2008. The selection sought to cover a range of measures that would affect the UK’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on votes where MPs were willing to break ranks and put the climate before their party.

Source: Tory MPs five times as likely to vote against climate action | Environment | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook