human activity and the destruction of the planet

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Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Extinction Rebellion has worked together with other experts and working groups to put together a draft of a Bill, containing their three demands.  The plan is to put it to government as a Private Member’s Bill. They are currently contacting various MPs in order to get it introduced in Parliament.  The draft Bill is currently as follows:

Extinction Rebellion Universities group in UK calls for eco ...



Require the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK achieves specified objectives regarding climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity; to give the Secretary of State a duty to draw up and implement a strategy to achieve those objectives; to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to work with the Secretary of State in drawing up that strategy; to give duties to the Committee on Climate Change regarding the objectives and the strategy; and for connected purposes. 

  1. Duty of the Prime Minister – climate change and biodiversity 

(1) It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK achieves the following objectives, 


(a) reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the provisions of the UNFCCC and the 

Paris Agreement regarding— 

(i) common but differentiated responsibilities, and (ii) respective capabilities taking into account different national circumstances, 

to a level that would, in the opinion of the Committee on Climate Change, be consistent with keeping global average temperature increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels; (b) restores and regenerates soils, biodiverse habitats and ecosystems and, wherever possible, 

expands these in area, for the purpose of optimising their carbon sink capacity and resilience to climate change and conserving biodiversity; (c) reduces its overall anthropogenic impact on the variety, abundance and health of both soil and biodiversity. (2) In this section— 

(a) “the UNFCCC” means the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted 

on 9 May 1992; (b) “the Paris Agreement” is an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on 

Climate Change adopted on 12 December 2015; (c) “pre-industrial levels” is the mean temperature over the period 1850–1900; (d) “biodiverse habitats” are habitats that are abundant in living species; (e) “carbon sink capacity” is the ability of natural reservoirs includingwithout prejudice to the 

generalitywoodlands, wetlands, peatlands and soil to absorb more carbon than they emit; and (f) “anthropogenic impact” is the direct and indirect negative influences of human action on soils and biodiversity. 

  1. Duty of the Secretary of State 

(1) The Secretary of State must within 12 months of the passing of this Act publish a strategy (‘the strategy’ 

specifying the measures that will in their opinion but subject to section 4 of this Act achieve the objectives.

(2) For the purpose of achieving the objectives, the strategy must— 

(a) include all UK consumption- and production-related emissions, including— 

(i) those relating to imports and exports and arising from aviation, shipping and land-based transport, and (ii) any other consumption- and production-related emissions;

(b) only use natural climate solutions (NCS) as the CO2 removal measures for the purpose of achieving the objectives;

(c) ensure that any negative emissions technologies to increase the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere that are considered would be additional to the objectives, thus increasing its overall ambition, and are only used to— (i) compensate for warming arising from emissions that cannot be completely eliminated from agricultural and industrial systems, or (ii) rectify the UK’s historical contribution to global warming;

(d) ensure that negative emissions technologies are not used to compensate for CO2 emissions from the energy system; these emissions need to reach zero without contributions of the aforementioned negative emissions technologies;

(e) ensure that the variety, abundance and health of UK ecosystems, and the ecosystem services they generate, are enhanced through active restoration and minimising the adverse impacts of domestic consumption and production;

(f) ensure that all necessary steps are taken so that supply chains of imports and exports minimise adverse impacts on ecological systems, including inter alia soils and biodiverse habitats overseas, and implement conditions that protect their health and resilience;

(g) ensure that (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) are applied to every five-yearly carbon budget that the CCC recommends to the UK Government.

(3) In this section— 

“natural climate solutions (NCS)” includes but is not restricted to reforestation, sustainable land management and restoration of wetlands, peat bogs and coastal ecosystems.

(4) Before publishing the strategy, the Secretary of State must issue a call for tenders for an independent body to establish a Citizens’ Assembly called the Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency (the ‘Citizens’ Assembly’) to work in cooperation with the Secretary of State and to recommend measures to be included in the strategy. 

  1. Functions of the Citizens’ Assembly 

(1) It shall be the duty of the Citizens’ Assembly to— 

(a) consider information provided by experts, and any other persons who have submitted evidence;

(b) deliberate and make recommendations on the measures needed for the United Kingdom to achieve the objectives;

(c) publish a report, or reports, on any decisions reached and the reasons for them, as soon as is reasonably practicable;

(d) advise the Secretary of State on measures to be included in the strategy pursuant to section 2(4);

(e) ensure that the measures adopted to achieve the objectives— 

(i) take into consideration the United Kingdom’s present and historical role in global emissions and comparative economic situation as indicated by the Paris Agreement;

(ii) do not disproportionately impact deprived communities;

(iii) do not disproportionately impact people with protected characteristics contained within section 4 of the Equality Act 2010; and

(iv) include adequate financial support and retraining for workers in greenhouse gas emission-intensive sectors and industries which are impacted upon by the proposed measures.

(2) In this section— 

“a deprived community” is a community with a high rating using government indices of deprivation. 

  1. Decisions by the Secretary of State 

(1) On receiving the recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly, the Secretary of State must— 

(a) include in the strategy those recommendations that have the support of at least eighty percent of the Citizens’ Assembly that are not measures requiring— 

(i) the disbursement of public funds, or (ii) charges upon the people;

(b) consider and try to reach agreement with the Citizens’ Assembly regarding recommendations that have the support of at least eighty percent of the Citizens’ Assembly that are measures requiring— 

(i) the disbursement of public funds, or (ii) charges upon the people; (c) consider measures that have the support of more than two thirds of the Citizens’ Assembly but less than eighty percent.

(2) The Secretary of State must publish their decisions regarding recommendations by the Citizens’ Assembly and the reasons for them.

(3) The Secretary of State must implement the strategy to achieve the objectives. 

  1. Review of the strategy 

(1) If in the opinion of the Secretary of State or the Citizens’ Assembly the objectives will not be achieved by the strategy, the Secretary of State must review the strategy and revise it so that the objectives will be met.

(2) The Citizens’ Assembly may make recommendations regarding the revision of the strategy and in such a case section 4(1) and (2) shall apply.

(3) The Secretary of State must implement any revised strategy. 

  1. Duty of the Committee on Climate Change 

The following section shall be inserted into the Climate Change Act 2008: 

“33A It is the duty of the Committee on Climate Change to— 

(1) give the opinion specified in section 1 of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Act 2020;

(2) decide on a methodology for calculating the United Kingdom’s total CO2 consumption emissions

(3) develop its advice based upon the perspectives of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and methodologies from The Biodiversity Metric 2.0 (4) decide on a methodology for calculating the health of ecosystems, including measures of species’ abundance, the quality and scope of biodiverse habitats and soil quality and contamination;

(5) set annual carbon budgets that supersede the existing carbon budgets and publish an annual report showing the progress towards meeting the objectives and implementing the recommendations; and

(6) base its advice only on a transparent scientific and mathematical interpretation of the objectives and explicitly communicated related value judgments. 

  1. Short title, Extent and Commencement 

(1) This Act may be cited as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Act 2020

(2) This Act extends to the whole of the UK provided that the Secretary of State shall secure the consent of the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Parliament before taking any action in Wales and Scotland respectively on devolved matters.

(3) This Act shall, subject to subsection (2), come into force on the day it receives Royal Assent. 

The drafting of the CEE bill gratefully acknowledges the expert contributions and insights of 

Prof. Kevin Anderson 

Dr. James Dyke 

Dr. Charlie Gardner 

Prof. Dave Goulson 

Prof. Tim Jackson 

Dr. Joeri Rogelj 

Prof. Graham Smith 

Mr. Robert Whitfield 

Update 3rd September 2020:

The CEE Bill was successfully tabled today with the maximum number of 11 co-sponsors from across 7 political parties covering all 4 nations in the UK. On top of this, more than 10 MPs have already backed the Bill as well.

Sadly, the date for the next ‘reading’ of the Bill isn’t until March 12th, 2021 – far too far away. It’s not good enough.

We need to get as many MPs as possible to back the bill. Join rebels in Westminster and call or email your MP now.

4th September 2020:

From Extinction Rebellion:


We’ve done it—the first stage of the CEE Bill campaign is complete!

On Wednesday, 2nd September, Caroline Lucas MP tabled the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in Parliament. As anyone watching on Parliament TV can tell you, bill presentations are quick—blink and you miss it! But make no mistake, this was a historic moment. 

Caroline Lucas has sent us this message of gratitude for all of us who helped pass this milestone:

Twelve MPs can be named on a private member’s bill when it’s introduced, and we managed to get cross-party support from six political parties. Here are the co-sponsors of the CEE Bill, who supported Caroline yesterday:

  • Alan Brown (Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
  • Stephen Farry (Alliance, North Down)
  • Claire Hanna (Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South)
  • Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat, Bath)
  • Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion)
  • Clive Lewis (Labour, Norwich South)
  • Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
  • Tommy Sheppard (Scottish National Party, Edinburgh East) 
  • Alex Sobel (Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West)
  • Zarah Sultana (Labour, Coventry South)
  • Nadia Whittome (Labour, Nottingham East)

But it doesn’t stop there—more and more MPs are also supporting the Bill. The momentum is growing. Has your MP stepped up yet?

  • Fleur Anderson (Labour, Putney)
  • Paula Barker (Labour, Wavertree)
  • Richard Burgon (Labour, Leeds East)
  • Ian Byrne (Labour, Liverpool West Derby)
  • Wendy Chamberlain (Lib Dem, North East Fife)
  • Daisy Cooper (Liberal Democrat, St. Albans)
  • Rosie Cooper (Labour, West Lancashire)
  • Rosie Duffield (Labour, Canterbury)
  • Lilian Greenwood (Labour, Nottingham South)
  • Kim Johnson (Labour, Liverpool Riverside)
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey (Labour, Salford and Eccles)
  • Kenny MacAskill (Scottish National Party, East Lothian)
  • John McNally (Scottish National Party, Falkirk)
  • Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon)
  • Brendan O’Hara (Scottish National Party, Argyll and Bute)
  • Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Labour, Streatham)
  • Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party, Strangford)
  • Claudia Webbe (Labour, Leicester East)
  • Dr. Philippa Whitford (Scottish National Party, Central Ayrshire)
  • Mick Whitley (Labour, Birkenhead)
  • Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon)
  • Mohammad Yasin (Labour, Bedford)

Please show your love and send a ‘thank you’ by email, phone or social media (using #CEEbill) if you’re a constituent of any of these MPs. We need to let them know that we appreciate their backing!

We’ll keep you posted on the next stage of the campaign, but for now, it’s really important to keep getting the support of as many MPs as possible. 

So if you haven’t already, ask your MP to support the CEE Bill and—if they are—whether they’ll also add their name to the Early Day Motion 832 (which is one way to demonstrate their backing). For tips on tweets and letter writing, check out the campaign resources on our website. 

23rd September 2020

The CEE Bill now has its own website, which lists which MPs are supporting it (currently 50+)


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Net Zero: CCC recommendations on how to achieve it

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s statutory advisor, published its progress report at the end of June.


According to the report, a number of areas need urgent attention, if the government is to reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  These are:

  • Energy Efficiency – insulating Britain’s homes;
  • Domestic Heating – looking at low carbon alternatives;
  • Electric Vehicles –  the CCC suggests that a complete switch to electric vehicles can be achieved by 2032, earlier than the government’s target of 2035, though car manufacturuers are opposing this;
  • Carbon Tax – this would not hit consumers but could raise £15 billion a year, according to the CCC;
  • Agriculture and Land Use – such as tree planting and nature-friendly farming, which could change agriculture from a major source of emissions to a net absorber;
  • Reskilling and Retraining Programmes – a new workforce will be required to install low-carbon boilers, home insulation and offshore wind farms;
  • Behavioural Changes in Lockdown – showed that many people can work from home, reducing emissions from transport emissions. A new infrastructure to encourage people to cycle or walk to work needs developing;
  • Targeted Science and Innovation Funding – for the development of low-carbon technologies;
  • Adaptations to the Effects of the Climate Crisis – flood defences, protecting homes from hotter summers etc.


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Actions politicians and public could take to reduce UK carbon emissions

This a youtube presentation by Prof. Keith Barnham (Imperial College, London) to help campaigners to know which issues to raise during the 2019 General Election.

It focuses on renewable energy and whether non-renewables are needed as a back-up.  He concludes that solar power and Anaerobic Digestion (AD), of farm animal and crop waste and food waste, which can generate biomethane for electricity and and gas grids are perfectly adequate to provide back-up, so that non-renewables no longer need to be used or developed.

He suggests that a new government should adopt this strategy.


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Citizen’s assembly planned for 2020 in Birmingham

From the UK parliament website:

Parliament sends 30,000 invitations for citizens’ assembly on climate change

02 November 2019

From Wednesday 6 November, 30,000 invitation letters will be landing on doormats across the UK – including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – inviting people to join Climate Assembly UK.

Participants in Climate Assembly UK, which was commissioned by six cross-party House of Commons Select Committees, will look at how the UK will reach its net zero emissions climate target, and what can be done by members of the public to help reduce carbon emissions. The citizens’ assembly has been launched before the dissolution of Parliament, to ensure that the assembly’s report is available to the new Parliament as it begins its work.

In June this year, following a recommendation by independent advisors the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK became the first major economy in the world to adopt a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This means that by 2050 the UK will have to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases it produces to a much lower level than today, and balance its remaining emissions by absorbing the same amount from the atmosphere.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Chair’s comments

Commenting, Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said:

“Adopting the net zero target was a major milestone for the UK, reflecting the strong cross-party support for action on climate change.

“We now need to set out a clear roadmap for the actions to achieve net-zero. It’s very clear that we will all need to play a part in meeting this target and that we all share a responsibility to future generations to do so. Finding solutions which are equitable and have public support will be crucial. Parliament needs to work with the people and with Government to address the challenge of climate change.

“The Climate Assembly UK will advise Parliament on how people want us to meet the net zero target, and suggest policies that the Government can implement to secure success.”

Citizens’ assemblies bring together people from all walks of life to discuss important issues. They have been used all around the world, including in the UK, to help shape the work of governments and parliaments. 30,000 addresses have been chosen at random to receive invitations to participate in Climate Assembly UK which will run over four weekends between late January to the middle of March next year in Birmingham. A representative sample of the population will then be selected from those who respond to the invitation, with 110 people taking part in the assembly.

Treasury Chair’s comments

Commenting, Mel Stride MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee said:

“Public concern around climate change is as high as it has ever been and this is a chance for people from all parts of society to come together, to decide how we as a country can best meet our net zero emissions target.

“Net zero is an opportunity, therefore, for people to not just explore ways in which the UK can end its contribution to climate change, but also create a cleaner, healthier environment as well as benefit from the opportunities around creating a low-carbon economy.”

Key themes to be discussed at Climate Assembly UK will include how people travel, what people buy and household energy use. The outcomes of discussions will be presented to the six select committees, who will use it as a basis for detailed work on implementing its recommendations. It will also be debated in the House of Commons.

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UK Government “bans” fracking – or is this just an election ploy?

Environmental campaigners across the country are celebrating because of the announcement that fracking in the UK is to be banned. The Government decision was based on a report from the OGA, drawing attention to an increased risk of earthquakes.


Some are saying that it is not a ban but a “morotorium” and that there is nothing to stop the government from reintroducing subsidies for fracking companies, were they to win the December 12th election.  I personally believe that the Conservative party is trying to woo the environmentalists vote, by appearing to have a green agenda.  So, lets look at some of the evidence, much of it provided by members of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR).

First of all, what is the difference between the words ban and moratorium?  Ban means to prohibit completely, whereas a moratorium is a temporary prohibition of an activity. This is not clear on a first read on the Government website. It starts by saying it is to no longer support fracking but further down uses the word moratorium. So, there you have it. It is an election ploy or “an electoral greenwashing gambit”, as described by one SGR writer. Fracking protesters can stop rejoicing at least until after December 12th, when we know what kind of government is to be running the country.

SGR wrote: “The extent of the government’s greenwashing yesterday is becoming clearer…

As they announced the moratorium (but not complete ban) on fracking, they were also preparing an announcement on the go-ahead for a new coal mine in Cumbria. There has been a lot less media coverage of this issue than the fracking announcement – but at least the local BBC news picked up the story:

Woodhouse Colliery: First UK deep coal mine in decades to go ahead

SGR has been working with the campaigners against this mine and the huge carbon emissions that it would lead to here:

The return of British coal?

Another source (Climate Action Network West Midlands CANWM) has pointed out that the report, on which the Government based it’s decision, came from the Oil and Gas Authority, whose role is to regulate, influence and promote the UK oil and gas industry in order to maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources“. (  The OGA have an official policy to Maximise Economic Recovery of UK gas and oil reserves ( ).

The MER UK policy completely contradicts efforts to migrate to renewable energy.  In addition, UK Government invests billions in fossil fuels subsidies – see   Globally, banks have invested $1.9t in fossil fuels in three years since COP21 in Paris.  This site  has a lot of detail about investment by several banks including HSBC in various aspects of fossil fuel industry – coal, tar sands, arctic exploration etc.


Another report in the “i” on 11th November 2019 suggests that the Prime Minister has made a U turn on the issue:

Boris Johnson accused of fracking U-turn as firms ‘could be allowed to drill for shale gas’ just days after Tories announced ban

Exclusive: The Government has slipped out a document which reveals ministers may allow more fracking in future”

The article, by Hugo Gye, includes the following:

“The Tories announced they would stop all fracking in England at the start of the general election campaign – but just three days later, they quietly issued a document which contradicts that promise, i can reveal.

Civil servants said that “future applications will be considered on their own merits” despite the supposed ban. And they also said there was “considerable merit” in loosening planning laws so local councils would no longer be able to block firms from drilling for shale gas.”

Further details can be found at:

It all sounded a bit too good to be true!

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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:

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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Secret Brexit legislation around environmental protections ‘must be revealed by government’

An article in The Independent by Phoebe Weston, with the above title, provides information about the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill, which establishes the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will investigate complaints about public authorities breaking environmental laws after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

The previous environment secretary, Michael Gove, said in December that the UK’s environment laws would be enhanced after Britain leaves the bloc. However, a cross-party committee of MPs said proposed protections fell “woefully short”. A highly critical report found the OEP lacked independence from Defra and had limited powers.

36 leading organizations, including Greenpeace and RSPB, have warned that laws about environmental protections after Brexit should be revealed by the government.

James West, Senior Policy Manager at Compassion in World Farming UK told The Independent: “As we leave the EU, Britain must ensure that there is no diminution of standards around animal welfare or environmental protections. It is vital that citizens can be confident the decisions reached by the OEP when investigating public bodies, particularly on something as critical as environmental protection, and therefore transparency is required.”

“We urge the Government to review the current proposal and remove the unnecessary secrecy that this new body would operate under.”


Hedgehog: one of Britain’s most endangered species


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Conversation between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg

July 9th 2019

Last weekend The Guardian published a long-distance conversation between AOC and GT.  It can be found here:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) is the youngest ever US congresswoman and Greta Thunberg is a 16 year-old Swedish schoolgirl.  Both of them overtly campaign against climate change and, in the conversation, discuss the issues and difficulties they have experienced whilst doing so.

In February, Ocasio-Cortez submitted the Green New Deal to the US House of Representatives, calling for, among other things, the achievement of “net-zero” greenhouse gases within a decade and “a full transition off fossil fuels”, as well as retrofitting all buildings in the US to meet new energy efficient standards. Thunberg has been campaigning both in Sweden and internationally for people to recognise the urgency of doing something about global warming and climate change.

In the course of their conversation, Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg discuss what it is like to be dismissed for their age, how depressed we should be about the future, and what tactics, as an activist, really work. Ocasio-Cortez speaks with her customary snap and brilliance that, held up against the general waffle of political discourse, seems startlingly direct. Thunberg, meanwhile, is phenomenally articulate, well-informed and self-assured, holding her own in conversation with an elected official nearly twice her age and speaking in deliberate, thoughtful English. They are, in some ways, as different as two campaigners can get – the politician working the system with Washington polish, the schoolgirl working from her bedroom to reach the rest of the world. There is something very moving about the conversation between these young women, a sense of generational rise that, as we know from every precedent from the Renaissance onwards, has the power to ignite movements and change history.

Do click on the link above and read the full conversation.  It will inspire you to keep going in your own activism.


                      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez                           Greta Thunberg


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The G20 summit, the European heatwave and the lack of international progress on climate change

A heatwave spread across Europe this last week; thermometers soared past 40C as temperatures broke new records. Schools close to Paris were forced to close; Germany introduced speed restrictions on its autobahns; and a Spanish meteorologist tweeted a map of the country’s weather forecast with the caption: “Hell is coming.”

_european heatwave2019

Temperatures are also running high in the climate change debate ahead of the G20 meeting in Osaka. Japan is set to omit references to “global warming” and “decarbonisation” from a G20 communiqué in a bid to please the US. This comes just days after four central European states — Estonia, Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria — stopped the EU from committing to a 2050 net zero carbon emissions target last week.


Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is trying to prevent the publication of  the IPCC Report. Last week Republican senators in Oregon fled the state to block the passage of a landmark bill that would commit the state, like neighbouring California, to ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. School strikes by teenagers and direct action, such as that by Extinction Rebellion, who demand governments “tell the truth”, have become a regular occurrence in recent months.  Yet, international progress on fighting climate change is in danger of stalling.  Bold and decisive leadership is needed if temperatures are to be prevented from rising to catastrophic levels. Countries that depend on fossil fuels will ultimately face a choice between foot-dragging or being left behind by technological progress. Renewables are often beating traditional sources on cost as well as on carbon emissions. Blocking international agreements will not keep coal viable.


Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, is rightly making a stand. He has pledged to refuse to sign any G20 communiqué that leaves out a reference to the 2015 Paris agreement on combating climate change.

Bottom-up pressure seems to be working where top-down international conferences stumble. Green parties were big gainers in last months’ European Parliament elections. France and Britain are pushing ahead on their own with net zero targets; Bavaria, a German state not usually known for its radicalism, is going further than the national government to end the use of coal. In the US, city mayors and state governments are stepping in to compensate for the lack of federal government action. Britain, France and California are all relatively large economies but ultimately tackling climate change will depend on action by the largest emitters — China, the US, India and the EU.

This makes global co-operation essential, despite some countries blocking progress since the Paris accord. Governments will need to step up just to meet the Paris targets in coming years. It means being honest with companies, workers and taxpayers about the costs. Spain’s programme to phase out coal, which involved early retirement for miners and payments to coal-dependent regions, provides one model for a so-called “just transition” which spreads costs fairly. Frustrating international agreements can do nothing but delay the inevitable.

The reality of climate change will catch up with politicians. That may be in the form of angry voters on the streets, or of extreme weather that makes cities uninhabitable and crops fail. As fugitive Oregon senators and G20 leaders in Osaka will eventually find, running away is not an option.

See also:


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MPs announce Citizen’s Assembly on climate change

From the BBC’s website:

Six parliamentary committees have announced plans for a citizens’ assembly to discuss how the UK should tackle climate change.

It comes after the government committed earlier this month to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

The assembly is likely to be set up in the autumn and will meet over several weekends before producing a report.

Energy Secretary Greg Clark welcomed the move, saying public engagement was “vitally important”.

The UK is the first major nation to propose the 2050 emissions target – and it has been widely praised by green groups.

But some say the phase-out is too late to protect the climate, whilst others fear that the task is impossible.

Response from Extinction Rebellion:

Image result for extinction rebellion logo download

Today, six select committees of the House of Commons have today announced plans to hold a Citizens’ Assembly on combating the climate emergency and achieving the pathway to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is an important first step towards giving ordinary people a voice on the future of our world. We welcome this step – and on top of Parliament declaring a Climate and Environmental Emergency – things are beginning to move in the right direction.

Isn’t it amazing the power of peaceful non-violent protest?

However, we cannot pretend that this is a legitimate assembly with real or legislative power. If the judicial system can depend on juries, why can people not be trusted with policy? It is encouraging news but – let us be clear – politicians have not met our third demand today. There is a very long way to go. A half arsed attempt at a Citizens’ Assembly will doom the process and the results. Please do not make this mistake. The urgency we face needs a commensurate response, let’s work together and sort this.

Linda Doyle, from Extinction Rebellion, says: “It is encouraging to see that our third demand is now being taken seriously by Parliament. It is important that we recognise the voice of ordinary people and work towards a just transition for all – nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, there are many problems with this proposal. The suggested assembly does not have any legislative power and we are concerned its advice and conclusions will not be fully implemented.

“We are also extremely concerned by the framing of these assemblies. It is a tragedy that these assemblies are being asked to look at how to decarbonise by 2050, as opposed to determining the target date themselves, based on the latest science and expert opinion. Our demands call for a Citizens’ Assembly organised independent of government and we want to see an oversight body established to ensure that the government does not have any undue influence over the agenda, evidence, or the eventual conclusions.

“It would be a shame if the voices of ordinary people were only ever used cynically to legitimise the Government’s unambitious targets. Now is the time to think big.”

Extinction Rebellion UK’s demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.