Tag Archives: environment

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?

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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

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Standards on environment, safety and human rights to be slashed for a grubby trade deal with Trump

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump: Enemies of the UK?

The Tory minister who once complained that the UK imports too much cheese is set to abolish the UK’s environmental safeguards – to get a food import deal with Donald Trump.

Theresa May promised that the UK would keep within EU rules on the environment, safety standards and human rights after Brexit.

But Boris Johnson will get rid of all these rules – that protect you – so he can sign a grubby deal with Donald Trump, to import genetically modified, inferior US food products at a high cost to the UK.

He describes this a way of gaining “flexibility”.

It seems responsibility for scrapping our protections will fall to cheese-loving international trade secretary Liz Truss.

This will require a huge admission of hypocrisy on her part – the woman who said importing two-thirds of our cheese was a “disgrace” –

– now seems perfectly happy to lower standards across the country in order to import all kinds of junk.

EU officials say that British negotiators are particularly keen to jettison EU restrictions on genetically modified foods – a key demand of American trade negotiators.

One EU official with knowledge of the Brexit talks suggested US trade officials appeared to have been in contact with British negotiators and told them standards would need to be slashed if there was any chance of a US trade deal.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, said scrapping the protections was “vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals and become more competitive”.

And of course rejecting EU standards means there can be no free trade deal with the bloc after the UK leaves it.

The intention seems to be to put the entire country at Donald Trump’s mercy – and he doesn’t seem to have much of that.

It seems clear that this plan is in the interests of nobody in the UK – apart from, possibly, Boris Johnson.

He certainly seems not to be interested in his duty to act in the interests of the people of this nation.

Of course, none of this can happen while the UK remains in the EU – and without an exit deal that MPs and MEPs can support, the UK will do just that.

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson moves to scrap environment safeguards to get deal with Trump | The Independent

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Tory Goldsmith heckled at Glastonbury as he tries to ‘greenwash’ austerity policies

“Tory policy kills”: Zac Goldsmith (seated) could do nothing about protestors at his Glastonbury event.

Hear, hear.

Goldsmith was the Tory whose campaign to become London Mayor was reprimanded for Islamophobia.

It seems he went to Glastonbury intending to ‘greenwash’ Tory austerity policies, but festival-goers weren’t having any of it.

And how many disabled people have died because of Tory policies? You won’t get a straight answer from the DWP about that.

Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith has been heckled at a speaker’s event at Glastonbury Festival, with audience members reacting to his answers with cries of “blah blah blah, f***ing bulls**t”.

Goldsmith, who represents Richmond Park and North Kingston, was appearing at the festival’s Speakers Forum to talk about austerity and the environment, in a session moderated by BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt.

According to Somerset Live, the event quickly spiralled out of control when protestors carrying a banner reading “Tory policy kills” entered the tent. Goldsmith was subsequently booed throughout the session, despite Rowlatt’s attempts to intervene.

Protestors additionally shouted, “How many disabled people have died?” while expressing their disdain at the MP’s answers to questions.

Source: Glastonbury: Zac Goldsmith heckled and booed at Speakers Forum event | The Independent

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Dismal Euro election result hides underlying causes for hope

Take heart, Britain! All is not as bad as the European election results make it seem!

Yes, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won 28 of the UK’s 73 seats, indicating an alarming shift to the political hard-right. But that doesn’t mean a hard-right election win. The Brexit Party didn’t even get a majority in the UK.

Also, the simple fact is that anti-EU parties led by Nigel Farage don’t actually do anything in the European Parliament, other than fart around making speeches that annoy the serious politicians. They certainly don’t take part in any democratic votes because it is a pillar of their beliefs that the EU cannot be a democratic organisation.

Just take a look at Mr Farage’s own voting record for the evidence. You’ll see the word “absent” a lot.

People who voted for the Brexit Party won’t make a difference in the EU because the Brexit Party won’t turn up.

In fact, the only reason the Brexit Party even campaigned was so Mr Farage could deliver an ultimatum on Brexit negotiations: He wants a place at the table so he can push for a “no deal” Brexit.

No deal means no NHS (he’d sell it to the Americans), no human or workers’ rights, chlorinated chicken for dinner and a massive increase in the cost of groceries and other goods. He would pauperise everybody who voted for him.

Best thing to do would be to give him the place he wants at the table – and then ignore him in the national interest.

Yes, the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a surge of support as UK citizens who want to remain in the European Union protest-voted for them.

How they expect to push their promise that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for remaining in the EU, when the European Parliament won’t be voting on that subject, is a mystery.

But those votes won’t be wasted. They’ll be used to promote right-wing Liberal Democrat policies – the same kind of policies they supported when in Coalition with the Conservatives, here in the UK, between 2010 and 2015.

Socialist remainers who voted Liberal Democrat should monitor the result very carefully – and probably with dismay.

But there was also a surge of support – across the EU – for Green parties and policies that address the growing climate change and environmental crises caused by a human race whose policies have been controlled by people like the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats for far too long.

The UK’s Green Party now has seven MEPs – an increase of four – who will help boost the total number of Greens in the European Parliament to a projected 71. This could give the Greens the balance of power in the European Parliament.

Any parliamentary group that wanted Green support would have to deliver on three key principles: climate action, civil liberties and social justice.

The party will exert maximum pressure on climate policy, but will also push for more social justice when it comes to who winds up footing the bill for the green transition.

And Labour will learn the lesson of its losses. The party as a whole will continue to express dismay at the polarisation of politics around a Leave/Remain conflict but will say there is no political solution coming from Westminster or Brussels so the question must go back to the people – directly.

That means either a general election or another referendum – the “people’s vote” that so many MPs, of many parties, have been demanding.

Labour has always said it will abide by the results of plebiscites on our membership of the European Union, and while a “people’s vote” referendum has been framed as a way of establishing support for remaining in the Union, the European election result (although not representative of the entire electorate as only a little more than one-third of the UK electorate took part) suggests otherwise.

It would be a way of silencing this divisive debate, once and for all.

So in the end, Labour’s policy may prove to be the winner.

 

 

Why should we take the blame for an environmental emergency that a tiny elite has caused?

Watching the report of the UN’s findings on BBC News earlier, I was moved to tweet the following:

I tend to agree with Greta, here:

It’s infuriating.

I was watching documentaries warning of pollution-related climate catastrophe at least as long ago as the 1980s – and nothing was done about it.

All the current hand-wringing is a pathetic attempt to con the general public into thinking that this is a new crisis, when it is nothing of the kind.

There has been plenty of time to do something constructive, but the fat cats of this world decided to make a few more billions for themselves instead – as if money could somehow save them when the environment collapses for all of us.

Now, you can bet they’re going to pretend that it’s somehow the rest of us who are responsible. Look:

Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

“Humans”?

Most of us haven’t had any say in it at all.

And yet we’re lumped in with the tiny minority who are responsible.

Despicable.

You can work out your own impact on the world by taking WWF’s environmental footprint questionnaire, here.

This Writer is pleased to announce that my environmental footprint is already lower than the 2020 target set by the UK government.

How’s yours?

Source: Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace – The New York Times

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