threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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How a Green New Deal will benefit us all

Taken from the Labour Party’s manifesto and written by Paul Halas, with acknowledgements also to:

https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/2019/10/18/how-a-green-new-deal-will-benefit-us-all-paul-halas/


There’s been a lot of excitement about Labour’s Green New Deal, but what does it involve and how will it affect us?

Burning up carbon deposits – in the form of oil, coal and gas – which were laid down over hundreds of millions of years, is pushing us to the brink of extinction. To avoid this we need to take some pretty drastic action and we’ll have to be prepared for major changes in the way we live, work, travel and even eat.

As part of its Green New Deal, Labour has undertaken to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030. This is how –

Some of the biggest changes will have to take place at the top, starting with the major international corporations – which carry the biggest responsibility for carbon emissions. They produce and sell both the fossil fuels and the machines and gadgets that cause climate change. By increasing tax on products and services that release more carbon, and reducing it on ones that cause less damage, big business can be made to do the right thing.

Greener energy will be a priority. Renewable energy sources now account for half our electricity, but to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 green energy must still be increased vastly. Labour plans to double offshore wind-powered generation, and will encourage local energy production – whether it’s from sun, wind or water, or a combination of them.

Transport and travel are major contributors to climate change. The Green New Deal will encourage greener ways of travelling, more sustainable technologies and better ways of making use of the resources we have. While they’re only a partial solution, the development and ownership of cars running on electricity from renewable sources will be helped, public transport will be improved and bus and rail networks widened. In the areas still not well served by public transport, vehicle-sharing schemes will be created.

Energy saving begins at home, and the Green New Deal proposes both a massive scheme of building new, energy-efficient homes and finding ways of improving existing buildings. There will be a major drive to insulate homes better, and the Conservatives’ tax increases on solar heating will be reversed.

Over time we’ll have to adapt our eating habits. Clearly, flying in foodstuffs from the four corners of the globe produces an unacceptable carbon footprint; equally, industrial-scale meat production releases an incredible amount of methane, another greenhouse gas. Producing more of our food closer to home will reduce our carbon output and help our economy, and a more plant-based diet will be less wasteful and in the end healthier.

Old systems will have to go as new technologies are developed. Much of our economy depends on technology and services that are no longer sustainable and will have no place in our greener future. Old systems will have to go as new technologies are developed. This will inevitably mean that some jobs disappear, but an expanding green economy will mean that more and better jobs will be created, and training will be provided for those who fill them. The green technological revolution will be funded by a £250 billion national investment scheme.

As well as a greener future, Labour’s Green New Deal aims to bring about a more equal future too. The excesses of the super-rich corporations will be curbed; tax avoidance will at last be tackled. The multimillionaire class have taken more and more, while the rest of us – the many – have been left with less and less. One way to tackle the problem is through taxation, and another is through localism – also known as Community Wealth Building. Many communities throughout the world are already benefiting from these schemes, and an increasing number of towns and cities in the UK are adopting them.

The idea is that communities and councils always give priority to local suppliers and services. For instance when building a new school, or hospital, or sports complex, etc, local firms will always be preferred to the big players to carry out the work. The same goes for services. Under the Labour Green New Deal local energy suppliers will be encouraged, especially if they are publicly-owned, or run by people’s co-operatives. Local credit unions will be created, house-building schemes, housing associations, food co-operatives – all manner of local enterprises – all creating fairly-paid, unionised jobs. That way money earned in the locality stays in the locality and benefits local people. It cuts down our carbon output by reducing transport of both people and goods, and encourages green technologies. It also creates a greater degree of equality and reduces our dependence on the big corporations. What’s not to like?

To prevent catastrophic climate change we’re all going to have to adapt to major changes. But they needn’t be daunting. We’re not going to go back to a pre-industrial age. We won’t have to cycle everywhere unless we want to, and we won’t have to live on a diet of turnips and pottage.

 

Many of the changes will be beneficial and will bring about a more equitable and contented society. They should be embraced.

These policies were mentioned in Jeremy Corbyn’s address to the 2019 Labour Party Conference and the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group is campaigning on the Green New Deal as part of the Campaign against Climate Change which set up the One Million Climate Jobs campaign.



 


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Climate change affects the German economy

This blog is taken from:

https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/the-shape-of-things-to-come-climate-change-affects-the-german-economy/

with acknowledgements and thanks to a colleague who runs the political clean up website.



In 2018, one of the longest dry spells on record left part of the Rhine in Germany at record low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop using the river altogether. Some inland ports lay idle and it is estimated that millions of tons of goods had to be transported by rail or road, raising costs significantly – twice or three times as much by rail and around five times as much by road, according to Handelsblatt Today.

The Rhine is vitally important to life and commerce in the region. Roughly 80% of the 223 million tons of cargo transported by ship in Germany each year travels the Rhine, which links the country’s industrial heartland to Belgium, the Netherlands and the North Sea. Parts of the Danube and the Elbe – Germany’s other major rivers – were also drying up.

The slump in the river’s water levels dented Germany’s economic growth by 0.4% in the final quarter of 2018 and by 0.3% in the preceding three months, according to estimates from JPMorgan economist Greg Fuzesi in January. Fuzesi said at the time he anticipated a 0.55% contribution to GDP in the first quarter of this year as the river’s water levels normalize. At least 0.7 percentage points had been shaved off economic growth last year, adding to a series of shocks that almost tipped the nation into a recession.

Problems included:

  • Ships carrying the large and heavy components of a wind farm could no longer reach Kubler’s Mannheim terminal.
  • Because they cannot be carried on rail, or for more than a couple of miles on roads, Kübler’s storage area at its terminal lay empty.
  • This stopped the building of the wind farm.
  • A trade group in Germany put farmers’ losses at several billion dollars.
  • The German chemical giant BASF had to decrease production at one of its plants because the Rhine, whose water it uses to cool production, was too low.
  • Gas stations in the region that relied on tankers to deliver from refineries in the Netherlands ran out of fuel.
  • About half of Germany’s river ferries stopped running, according to the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration
  • River cruise ships had to transport their passengers by bus for parts of their journey.
  • Thousands of fish in the Swiss section of the river died because of the heat and low oxygen levels.
  • In November, natural gas prices increased 13% throughout Europe as coal barges could not reach coal-powered plants.
  • The world’s largest chemical company BASF, which operates the world’s largest integrated chemical plant on the western bank of the Rhine, said the overall cost of 2018 dry season was $285 million.
  • Steel maker ThyssenKrupp could not receive raw materials to one of its mills in Duisburg, forcing the company to delay its shipments to customers including automotive giant Volkswagen.
  • Contargo, which usually moves approximately 50,000 containers a month on around 40 barges, was forced to reduce its operations to three barges. Its statement noted the situation had become so extreme that barges could no longer navigate the Middle Rhine without danger.
  • Tourism was among the hardest hit sectors since the river is frequently used by boats cruising up and down the Rhine to visit castles, vineyards and other sights.

De Hoop

The wreck of De Hoop, a Dutch freighter that sank after an explosion in 1895 and is normally submerged, lay exposed on the Rhine’s banks – and wild tomatoes grew in the Rhine riverbed in Bonn.

In January and February this year, Rhine barge operators introduced a low water surcharge on exports and imports, as – we noted – did Montreal shipping companies, when, due to the lower water level of the St Lawrence river, ships had a limited loading capacity and fewer containers could be loaded on board,.

Bloomberg reported that water levels at many Rhineland locations were now back to normal for the time of year and barges that handle hundreds of fuel shipments up and down the river each year were able to reach all destinations fully loaded — something they had not been able to do for months, according to Rotterdam-based broker Riverlake Barging.

BASF’s CEO Martin Brudermueller is calling for new locks and dams to be built to keep the river navigable in dry season. The shipping lane could be made deeper, but that would take years, if not decades, and would cost millions.

“Our research shows an increase in instability,” said Hagen Koch, who studies rivers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The extremes are going to happen more often.” The Rhine’s flow relies not just on annual rainfall, but also on enormous long-term reserves of water in the Alps. Melting snow and glaciers, as well as Lake Constance, feed the upper parts of the river, but with climate change, those reserves are lower. There are reasons to believe such weather will become more frequent with a warming climate.

Sources include:

https://theloadstar.com/port-of-rotterdam-expansion-sparks-call-for-urgent-expansion-of-rhine-freight-corridor/

https://www.handelsblatt.com/today/companies/low-water-dwindling-rhine-paralyzes-shipping-transport/23695020.html?ticket=ST-4247374-9jmn5gssgio4lWFhMoFL-ap6

https://theloadstar.com/barge-operators-hit-new-charges-rhine-water-levels-sink-new-lows/

https://theloadstar.com/shippers-face-surcharges-boxes-barge-summer-heat-hits-rhine-water-level/

https://www.dailysabah.com/economy/2019/01/19/decreasing-water-levels-significantly-affect-europes-main-waterway-rhine

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/europe/rhine-drought-water-level.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-13/finally-some-good-news-for-german-growth-as-river-rhine-refills

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-23/germany-s-dried-up-rivers-cut-growth-but-the-rebound-is-coming

https://www.embassyfreight.co.uk/news/montreal-low-water-surcharge-lws/



 


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Is it time for a Global Planetary Authority?

I have been reading a blog, written by Angus Forbes, on the website of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), which exists to help bring about a transformation of the economic system, of society and of institutions so that all actors prioritise shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.

The WEAll Amp team

The piece by Angus Forbes is the first in a series of guest blogs, exploring a range of new ideas for how we can move forward and create a future economy with human and environmental wellbeing at its heart.  I will not copy it in its entirety but just give extracts here.  Those who want to respond to his ideas should do so in the comments section of his blog:

Guest blog: Is it time for a Global Planetary Authority? – by Angus Forbes

Here it is:

Two extraordinary things have just happened to the human race. The first is the understanding that we now run, along with Mother Nature, the life-support system of our planet. This is tantamount to a second Copernican revolution. The second is that we have now formed into a connected global citizenship.

From this point on, the future of both Earth and us humans is inextricably linked due to our size and power. So, we now have part responsibility for the planet’s ability to sustain life as we know it. We, yes, us humans, have to decide what the biophysical integrity of this planet will be in 2120, 3020, 4020 and thereafter.

We created our 200 countries though numerous acts of national self-determination when the global population was, on average, just under two billion (1924). Now we number just under eight billion people, we are urban, we are powerful and things have changed.

We now have a global problem that clearly cannot be handled by the system of independent countries and their multilateral organizations that we have created. For in the 50 years since the 1972 UN Stockholm Declaration which stated that the natural assets of Earth must be safeguarded, we have witnessed the accelerating destruction of our most valuable global asset, the biosphere. So something is structurally very wrong….

I am absolutely convinced that in order to protect the biosphere, we need a specialist global authority to do the job. We need to give it powers of regulation and revenue collection over all human organizational form (including the nation state) sufficient to impose the necessary biophysical boundaries for us all. Our new specialist authority will make decisions based on time frames different from those used by any existing human organization, i.e. 100, 500 and 1,000 years.

I believe that humanity is just about to embark upon our first act of global self-determination and enter the current void in global governance to create this authority. In 2022, 32 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the computer program HTML and gave us the World Wide Web, five billion of us will be connected to each other via the internet. Five billion global citizens who are only seconds apart…..”

It is interesting that I have just been sent the link to this piece, for I was at a workshop two nights ago, with presentations from different people involved in various ways to try to reduce the impact of climate change. One spoke about upskilling people to do green jobs, another talked about the importance of supply chains and another about reparation needed for those countries who were most affected by climate change but who had done nothing themselves to cause it.  This last speaker used the following phrase: “We need a global reset of systems rather than carrying on as things are at present.”  Perhaps what she was saying is similar to Angus Forbes comments above.

I am not an economist but, for a long time, I have realised that national and global economies need to be reformed.  You will find my comments on this in my book and in several blogs posted on this site.  I have been hoping that progressive economists would get together and tease out a workable structure that will reform the way economics is taught and implemented.  Maybe the Wellbeing Economy Alliance is a body that could take this forward.



And this morning I have been sent a link to another publication on a similar theme:

“Economics: a Crash Course: become an Instant Expert” by David Boyle and Andrew Simms, available for £9.69 at:

https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/David-Boyle/Economics-A-Crash-Course–Become-An-Instant-Expert/23812700



 


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Woman climate protester assaulted by Government minister

Most people will have seen the footage of a Greenpeace protester being punched, grabbed by the shoulders and neck and then frog-marched out of the room by an MP, Mark Field, who was attending a dinner at the Mansion House. If you haven’t seen it, here is the link:

https://u1584542.ct.sendgrid.net/mpss/c/AwE/ni0YAA/t.2ss/jm31GoJiS6-QQgU3J2vzJA/h18/VE2atosPJwyp5yA4oN-2FSarjpZD1CtBvw8rBP8BWEgE9rbhhqx9nV4EdwjNd2D1IYjeTZuCNcLAog6dG3N-2Fc9b-2By2Yqbtd3mCkLqyjVU8hMMqoyKj2TqbZo9m5iSMV0SzyUNd25-2BmxpMXxky-2B7fHKaH67MmhBHZDDaQbTvJovQdE0trMct7mVAk0XvvXVUq-2BY7WsxuDEE-2BJ9cOzuw3Cefh4lDQ2Iv01XLCqcq8lM6D6h0llEmKQ24IbdUPMWorFmWK3Zi5dNHqwGOs6IRiSZ-2FgZJTNPbPhcrmEbdoznVh2t39M38ViXl7S-2BPdYXlKj4RDklK7a3h8JdsC8Qq1xRiBY3of3WoMOirLLSrqi2lKuoE-3D

This all happened as a result of a group of climate activists wanting to inform the Chancellor, Philip Hammond and bankers and MPs attending the dinner, about how the current economy is acting to make climate change worse.  The Greenpeace activists, mainly women, had dressed up in red evening dresses to look as if they were attendees, thus getting through security.  It was a non-violent protest, as the protesters were only carrying leaflets to hand out.  The violent action of the Tory minister was in stark contrast to this.  Other guests just sat there without intervening or trying to stop Mark Field violently assaulting her.

mansion house

Mark Field MP grabbing the non-violent protester at the Mansion House event

As a result of an outcry, Mark Field has been suspended from his post. A piece in The Guardian tells the story from the woman’s point of view:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/21/greenpeace-activist-mark-field-needs-anger-management?link_id=19&can_id=ae8fb89f0e3f1a9dcfdb9ae6492433d2&source=email-newsletter-24-they-fought-like-non-violent-scotsmen&email_referrer=email_570442&email_subject=newsletter-24-they-fought-like-non-violent-scotsmen

According to this article, Janet Barker, the protester, thinks that Mark Field needs a course in anger management.

The other interesting (or shocking) factor in all of this is the way in which it has polarised opinion, many thinking that Field was within his rights to treat her so violently. And others, like me, being appalled at the unnecessary level of violence he used. These comments can be seen below the original clip (link above).  Do we have half a generation of people who justify violence against women?  Who justify expressing contempt towards those who have a different opinion to themselves?  To me, it looked like he punched her in the breast before grabbing her shoulders but others have not commented on that.

Are we to see more of this kind of thing as protests against climate change escalate, as they must do? A polarisation of opinion on climate change and the future of the planet, just like we have become polarised over Brexit?



 


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Revoke legislation which obligates maximising economic recovery of UK oil & gas: petition to government

The UK Infrastructure Act 2015 makes it a legal obligation to “maximise economic recovery of UK petroleum” – committing this and future governments to maximise emissions from UK fossil fuels.

At the same time, they have legal obligations to minimise them: essential because of the climate crisis.


The Infrastructure Act was passed in 2015. 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/7/section/41/enacted

The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008.
It is legally-binding national legislation to address climate change. UK also signed the Paris Agreement.

More on UK legal duties on climate change:
https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/the-legal-landscape/

Prof. James Hansen on the planetary emergency:
https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Hansen-letter-to-general-public.pdf

Both Acts appear to contradict one another and the Infrastructure Act operates against the need to be reducing (or stopping altogether) the use of fossil fuels.

Please read all the links and the letter above and sign the petition.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/259116

At 10,000 signatures…

At 10,000 signatures, the UK government will respond to the petition

At 100,000 signatures…

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament



 


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Climate economics need updating

Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (LSE), has written a letter to the Financial Times on 28th December 2018.  It is copied in its entirety below:

“Your excellent editorial “ How to rescue the global climate change agenda” (December 27) is right to call for a transformation of the policy discussion on climate change in order to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. However, you neglected to highlight a key solution: economists and finance ministries must stop relying on models that are simply not fit for purpose when making investment decisions.

The potential impacts of climate change caused by fossil fuel use are grossly underestimated by the current generation of economic models, which cannot quantify the cost of, and therefore omit, tipping points in the climate system, such as the destabilisation of the land-based ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, and apply inappropriate discounting such that huge damages to future generations are trivialised.

Similarly, economic models overestimate the costs of new zero-carbon technologies because they do not take adequate account of co-benefits, such as reductions in local air pollution, and of processes such as learning by doing. These models have failed to forecast how quickly the production and development costs of renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, have fallen over the past few decades and years.

The consequence of these shortcomings was starkly illustrated earlier this month during the Nobel Prize lecture by William Nordhaus, the great pioneer of climate economics. He told the audience in Stockholm that his widely used model indicates “optimal climate policy” would result in global warming of 3C by the end of this century and 4C by 2150. Such a result is simply not credible when compared with the scientific evidence collated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year, showing how devastating a global temperature rise of more than 1.5C would be.” 

climate dryness


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Nothing in the Budget to combat climate change

The UK’s Chancellor issued a new Budget last Monday but, to the shock of many people, there was nothing in it in response to the recent UN-commissioned report showing that urgent action in required to avoid runaway climate change.

Budget

The Chancellor setting off from Downing Street on Monday

Now, a letter has been written to the Prime Minister by a group of MPs and leaders of environmental organisations to castigate her for this oversight.  They believe that the Budget is “an unforgivable betrayal of future generations” due to its “worrying lack” of a policy on climate change.  There has also been no Governmental response to the recent UN Report, which the Government appears to have ignored.

The group behind the letter include the Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and six other MPs, together with the CEOs of Greenpeace, 10:10 Climate Action and Global Witness.  One of them is quoted as saying, “Not only did the chancellor fail to mention climate change in his speech, but the policies he put forward, from subsidy to polluters via the fuel duty freeze to a mass road building programme, will increase the UK’s climate impact.”

The only green initiative announced was £60 million towards planting trees – 500 times less than the sum going towards roads.  The letter in its entirety is shown below.



Dear Prime Minister,

On Monday, your Government presented its Budget and, in doing so, revealed a profoundly worrying lack of policy changes to combat the greatest threat of our time: climate change.  Not only did the Chancellor fail to mention climate change in his speech but the policies he put forward – from subsidy to polluters via the fuel duty freeze to a mass road building programme – will increase the UK’s climate impact.

With fracking now proceeding, and continued tax breaks handed out to fossil fuel firms, we believe it is now vital we call out failure from a generation of politicians who will not live to see the devastation that their policies will wreak on future generations.

The most recent IPCC report was very clear about what Governments need to urgently do – yet your Government has all but ignored its publication in this Budget. We should be very clear here about timescales. It’s almost too late already, so pushing policy-making into the long grass of Brexit at this stage represents an abject failure to govern in the interests of the people you are elected to serve.

We do not accept that individuals in the Government do not care about climate change, nor that it’s too late to change course.  We simply state here and now that the Budget must be a nadir for this Government’s tainted record – and that urgent action in the coming days must be announced.  Anything short of that would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations.

Caroline Lucas MP

Clive Lewis MP

Liz Saville-Roberts MP

Anna McMorrin MP

Tim Farron MP

Alex Sobel MP

Roger Godsiff MP

Gillian Caldwell, CEO, Global Witness

John Sauven, Director, Greenpeace

Hugh Tagholm, Director, Surfers Against Sewage

Guppi Bola, Director, Medact

Alice Bell, Director, 10:10 Climate Action



See also: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/environment/mps-and-environmental-groups-accuse-theresa-may-of-‘unforgivable-betrayal’-on-climate-change-in-budget/ar-BBPeusn?ocid=spartandhp