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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Association of Clinical Psychologists UK statement on the need for action to address the climate crisis

https://acpuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/temp-logo-copy-2-e1514914420101.png

ACP-UK recognises the urgency of the climate and ecological crises and the need for action. As scientist-practitioners we actively seek reliable evidence to inform our positions and we recognise that environmental scientists have repeatedly warned us that the science is clear: the crises are real, human-made and pose a clear existential risk to the survival of our species and countless others on the planet.[1], [2]

It is normal to feel powerless and hopeless given the facts of the climate emergency and stark reality of the crises.  Our profession values the importance of acknowledging emotions; but still many of us will struggle to engage with the magnitude of what is happening to our world because doing so necessarily requires us to contemplate all that we have lost and stand to lose in the years to come. Climate change is our shared trauma.

As a profession we are well trained to reflect on our reality and to support others to engage with the resulting distress in containing ways. The profession has also come a long way towards recognising the importance of social action on issues such as racism and inequality[3], [4]. We believe that collective action is good for personal wellbeing, and also has far greater impetus for political change than individual actions. And so we must connect with the despair and work through our denial, supporting others to do so too, including those with power, because we must act. The window of opportunity has not yet closed, but it soon will; and we need action for there to be hope.

“We will see acute trauma on a global scale, in response to extreme weather events, forced migration and conflict. This would be in addition to the chronic trauma associated with long-term risks, such as the threat of danger to life. For children growing up in a landscape of ever-increasing danger and parental stress, we risk developmental trauma becoming a ‘normal’ part of childhood experience.”

 – Practitioner psychologists and the trauma of climate change. An open letter demanding immediate and effective action

Last year, ACP-UK endorsed an open letter[5] that was signed by over 1000 psychologists. The letter considered some of the psychological impacts of the environmental emergencies, such as the effects of traumatic events, forced migration, conflict, and the likely increase in prevalence of developmental trauma that would follow from the predicted collapse of society.[6] In solidarity with other professional groups,[7],[8] the letter supported peaceful protest as ‘the reasonable choice for responsible individuals’ and called for governments and media to tell the truth about the environmental emergencies and to take action to achieve carbon neutrality within the timeframe specified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).[9]

In September, MPs from across the political spectrum condemned actions by the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion for blockading delivery of a Murdoch owned newspaper. The Home Secretary subsequently referred to Extinction Rebellion activists as ‘criminals’, responsible for a ‘shameful attack on our way of life, our economy and the livelihoods of the hard-working majority’.[10] Although ACP-UK recognises that the views of its members on the action of blockading newspapers will be diverse, the current statement is offered to support the underlying intentions of non-violent environmental activists throughout the globe; this includes clinical psychologists who have already been arrested following peaceful actions[11] to highlight the urgency with which the climate and ecological crises need to be responded to.

ACP-UK has thus produced this position statement with four main points:

  1. Peaceful protest is a cornerstone to participation and progress in democratic society. To condemn non-violent climate action would be to be complicit in environmental harm.
  2. ACP-UK believes that clinical psychologists should consider participation in peaceful protest to highlight the urgency of the crises as part of their professional obligations.
  3. ACP-UK pledges to engage in dialogue with the HCPC and unions to call for timely and sensitive responses to those convicted for non-violent actions of moral protest, where these are undertaken away from the workplace.
  4. ACP-UK publicly rejects the notion asserted by the Home Secretary that non-violent environmental protesters represent a ‘threat to democracy.’[10] As clinical psychologists, we recognise the power language has to dangerously vilify individuals and groups, whilst drawing attention away from the failings of global governments to act.

All health professionals have a duty and obligation to engage in all kinds of non-violent social protest to address the climate emergency”

– Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet[12]

It is not just our identities as clinical psychologists that should compel us to act to address the climate emergency, but also our very existence as moral human beings: The climate and ecological crises are deeply intertwined with issues of racism, inequity, and social justice, with those suffering most being those least responsible for the harm to the planet.[13],[14],[15]

“Once we take even the smallest step, we start to recover our sense of effectiveness and power, and our spirits lift: Once we start to act, hope is everywhere”

– Greta Thunberg

“Something that gives me a lot of hope is seeing so many different people fighting for this common issue and realizing that I am not alone

– Jurwaria Jama

[1] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QdWn7PCDqNUQvzmPaJPMEYqsXKAVcuE0MPxcJVdaKjw/edit#

[2] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

[3] https://acpuk.org.uk/acp-uk_statement_on_trainers_conference/

[4] https://acpuk.org.uk/rapid_response_george_floyd_murder/

[5] https://acpuk.org.uk/climate_change/

[6] https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdU6L3NM12ikT-34ZPlp1yv-6nHcM5aqhmid6nK-M3plZGu3A/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/27/doctors-call-for-nonviolent-direct-action-over-climate-crisis

[8] https://www.lawyersforxr.com/

[9] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/08/extinction-rebellion-criminals-threaten-uks-way-of-life-says-priti-patel

[11] https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/i-took-my-turn-friday-be-arrested

[12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEVGNeneYug

[13] https://www.nature.com/articles/srep20281

[14] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/climate-justice/

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2020/sep/22/climate-change-action-bangladesh-paris-agreement

Dr Gareth Morgan, ACP-UK Member
Dr Tori Snell, Joint Director for England
Dr James Randall, Joint Early Careers Director

October, 2020


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Global Ocean Alliance: 30 countries are now calling for greater ocean protection

Published 3 October 2020 From: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith

30 countries have now joined the Global Ocean Alliance championing an international commitment for a minimum 30% of the global ocean to be protected through Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

At the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the UK again reiterated its commitment to protecting the environment and halting biodiversity loss.

The UK’s global leadership on ocean protection has seen it on track to establish a ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas spanning 4 million square kilometres across its Overseas Territories and a £500 million Blue Planet Fund, to be launched next year, that will protect marine resources from key human-generated impacts, including climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat loss.

The UK is celebrating 30 countries joining the Global Ocean Alliance in support of the UK-led 30 by 30 initiative, an international commitment to protect at least 30% of the global ocean in Marine Protected Areas by 2030, through the UN Convention on Biodiversity in 2021.

The Global Ocean Alliance has grown from 10 to 30 members in just 12 months, and the countries which alongside the UK have committed to trebling existing targets are: Belize, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Finland, Fiji, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Monaco, Nigeria, Palau, Portugal, Seychelles, Senegal, St Kitts, Sweden, Spain, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

International Marine Minister, Zac Goldsmith, said:

I thank and commend the 30 countries that have now joined the Global Ocean Alliance. Our shared ocean is facing unprecedented pressures, and together we are making a powerful case for increased protection.

I encourage other nations to join us in this campaign. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have an opportunity to make sustainability and resilience the lens through which we map our respective recoveries, and that is what we should commit ourselves to doing.

Without a healthy ocean there would be no life as we know it. The ocean generates 50% of Earth’s oxygen and it is our planet’s climate regulator, absorbing 93% of the additional global heat as well as 25% of human-driven CO2 emissions.

With 12 million tonnes of plastics entering the ocean every year, the UK Government is also working to tackle the scourge of plastic waste globally and through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and the Commonwealth Litter Programme, which are driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean in support of meeting Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Life Below Water’.

The UK is also taking action to protect the ocean with 36% of UK waters protected in a network of marine protected sites; a ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds which has come into force in England this week; a pioneering ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products; and the 5p single use bag charge extended to all retailers from April 2021 with the charge increasing to 10p – taking over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation.

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Greta Thunberg: World must ‘tear up’ old systems, contracts to tackle climate change

gretathunberg in davos

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said that the world needs an economic overhaul to have a chance of beating climate change and that countries should be prepared to tear up old deals and contracts to meet green targets.

The 17-year-old spoke to Reuters TV after she and other activists sent an open letter to European leaders urging them to take emergency action and saying people in power had practically “given up” on searching for a real solution.

“We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it’s not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible. It won’t change a thing,” Thunberg said, speaking via video from her home in Stockholm.

Demands in the letter, released before the European Council summit, included an immediate halt to all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, in parallel with a rapid ending of fossil fuel subsidies.

The letter also called for binding annual “carbon budgets” to limit how much greenhouse gas countries can emit to maximise the chances of capping the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5C, a goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord.



This week (21st July 2020), it has been announced that Greta Thunberg has received an award for €1 million from the Gulbenkian Rights award. She has pledged that this money will be given to climate change activist groups, working to protect the environment and halt climate change.



 


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We need a Just Transition to reshape our economy for people and planet

This posting is from Scotland’s Friends of the Earth and is about a consultation just released by the Just Transition Commission, which was set up last year by the Scottish government.  The deadline for responding to the consultation is 30th June 2020.

We need a Just Transition to reshape our economy for people and planet – share your views with the Just Transition Commission

Without a radical transformation of our economy, we face climate breakdown. While the Scottish Government has set demanding climate and energy targets, plans to deliver them don’t do enough to ensure that no-one is left behind as we move to a fossil free economy.

In fact, much of our progress in reducing emissions has been as a result of de-industrialisation, and policies to deliver the zero-carbon economy have failed to realise the full potential of creating new, decent work in Scotland.

If the transition continues to be left to market forces, we risk a repeat of the devastating social dislocation and high unemployment experienced as a result of de-industrialisation and coal mine closures.

The importance of planning this transition

To get this crucial, economy-and-society-wide transition right, people all over Scotland need to be deeply involved in the planning for how their work, lives and communities are going to change. The impact of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the economy, with a deep recession now looming, simply compounds this.

The economic recovery must be a Just and Green Recovery that promotes the growth of green industries, creating urgently-needed, quality opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic as well as for those who will be impacted in the move to a fossil free economy.
Just Transition banner at May Day March 2-10

The Just Transition Commission – set up by the Scottish Government last year following calls from STUC and FoES – has been tasked with advising Ministers on how to achieve Scotland’s climate targets in a way that is fair to all. The Commission has recently launched an Interim Report and alongside this issued a call for evidence to inform their work, closing on 30th June.

Crucially, the Interim Report emphasised that a Just Transition will not happen by accident and it must mean more than rhetoric. The Commission has been clear in stating that a Just Transition requires a comprehensive approach from Government with consistency across all Departments in reducing our emissions in a way that protects workers and communities while reshaping our economy in the interests of people and planet.

The importance of urgent planning and intervention to put us on the path to a Just Transition is brought into even sharper focus as we look to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, with a deep global recession looming unless governments intervene effectively. The Scottish Government has written to the Commission for advice on how best to do this, so the present call for evidence is also a crucial chance to share with the Commission our vision and demands for a Just and Green Recovery from COVID-19.

Seize the moment to shape the transition

This call for evidence is a key opportunity for individuals, organisations and groups across the country to get their voices heard about what needs to happen for a truly just transition to a zero carbon economy that is fair for all.

This is particularly important for workers or communities where the local economy relies heavily on fossil fuel industries, but the scale of change necessary to tackle the climate crisis is such that it will have an impact on everyone.

In the process we can transform our economy in terms of who it serves and what we prioritise, putting people and the planet above corporate interests. This is a rare moment – we must seize it!

The Just Transition Commission wants to hear from people, organisations and businesses across Scotland on their views of what a successful Just Transition would look like and who is likely to be most impacted by the move to a zero carbon economy.  Below you can read our priorities as well as additional resources to help you in preparing to respond.

Our priorities for a Just Transition

We have been campaigning with our trade union allies in the Just Transition Partnership since 2017. Based on this work, our key priorities for a Just Transition that we want the Commission to take on board are:

  • New jobs for a high skill, high wage and zero carbon economy are needed for those leaving old, polluting jobs to move into but there is no sign yet of the strategic support, intervention and investment needed to realise this.
  • A Just Transition approach which is able to protect workers, while ensuring a fairer spread of the economic benefits, must anticipate changes in the labour market and put in place strategic skills development and retraining programmes.
  • Just Transition Plans must be put in place for all industrial sectors, deepening democratic participation in decision making through the participation of workers and trade unions. These should be a condition of all government support to private companies and delivered by the actions of all public agencies
  • The workers and communities likely to be most impacted must be engaged deeply in the decisions affecting their livelihoods. Planning must involve those people as well as trade unions and environmentalists to ensure the pace and focus needed.
  • There must be a far greater role for a Publicly Owned Energy Company (POEC) than that currently proposed by the Scottish Government. Rather than becoming just another retail supplier of energy, it should have a role across the energy network; creating new renewables projects, prioritising domestic supply chains and enabling local and regional energy ownership too.
  • Scotland’s National Investment Bank should be connected with the POEC to provide critically needed investment. More widely, the Bank’s patient, long-term lending should be concentrated on delivering the just transition to zero carbon, and creating decent work in the green economy across Scotland.

Take this opportunity to get your voice heard by following this link.

The deadline to respond is Tuesday 30th June!

There are six questions in the consultation but you do not need to answer every one. If you want to submit your thoughts then you could focus on Questions 3 & 4 to say what a Just Transition would look like in your opinion and what the Scottish Government should be doing to make it happen

Additional resources to help you respond to the call for evidence:

A pdf copy of the report can be downloaded from:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/transition-commission-interim-report/pages/10/

View this document



Scottish Quakers have submitted a response to the consultation:

Quakers in Scotland response to the Scottish Just Transition Commission interim report consultation

This submission is made on behalf of Quakers in Scotland. It is informed by the longstanding and deeply held Quaker concern for equality and care for the earth, and by our current work focusing on climate justice. Quakers seek to live in accordance with our core values of equality, peace, simplicity, truth and integrity. Led by our experience that there is something of God in all people, we are saddened by, and deplore the vast inequalities that currently exist in Scottish and UK society as well as globally. We believe government has a moral duty to address this crisis of inequality, including through a just transition approach to emission reductions. We believe it is also the duty of government to speak plainly and honestly about the scale of the economic transformation required, and about what this means for highcarbon industries such as oil and gas and aviation.

What do you see as the main economic opportunities and challenges associated with meeting Scotland’s climate change targets?
Scotland, like the rest of the global North, faces the immense challenge of managing a
transition to an economic system which prioritises equality, health and quality of life, not
growth. GDP was never intended as a measure of general prosperity, and its continuing use for this purpose, results in a distorted view of the economy which is still the basis of
policymaking. The success of the transition to a zero-carbon economy must be measured in different terms: emissions reductions, and a range of indicators for equality and wellbeing.

The unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19 have revealed the inequities within our
current system, as well as the public appetite for change: for example, a recent Britain-wide poll for Positive Money found that a majority of people think social and environmental outcomes should be prioritised over economic growth.i
Justice must be the basis for policies to address the climate crisis, or we are likely to see increased inequality, ill health and social exclusion. We are therefore pleased to see the Scottish government placing the just transition at the heart of its thinking on climate.
Fuel poverty provides a clear example of how a just transition can reduce inequality as well as emissions. Strong government action on energy efficiency of housing, through both retrofitting programmes and standards for new homes, could improve health through better housing conditions, as well as contributing to Scotland’s climate targets. Money spent wisely on the just transition is a good investment, not a burden, and the government should present it as such.

One particular challenge in the Scottish context is the need to wind down oil and gas
production. Scottish and UK energy policy still includes the ‘duty’ to “maximise economic
recovery from the UK continental shelf”, an aim that is directly at odds with the urgent need for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. The two aims cannot coexist, and attempts to pretend otherwise are hampering the transition.

To assume continued dependence on oil and gas in 2045 presupposes an unrealistically
large ‘net’ in ‘net zero’, with no evidence this can be achieved. The reference in the
consultation document to a ‘transition’ for the oil and gas industry suggests that it can
‘green’ itself, when there is no evidence that this is so. We fear that the idea of a ‘net zero
carbon hydrocarbon basin’, based wholly on hoped-for ‘further innovation’ could be
industry ‘greenwash’ designed to allow little serious change. Government action is needed to ensure that sector-by-sector plans are realistic and in line with the Paris Agreement: voluntary action from industry will not be enough. The just transition must be about protecting workers and communities, not big business. A just transition for oil and gas workers cannot be predicated on fantasies about a continuing role for fossil fuels – it needs to plan for a much earlier phase-out date. The Covid-19 crisis has shown that it is possible for the manufacturing industries to diversify into, for example, the production of ventilators.

What do you think are the wider social (health, community etc.) opportunities and
challenges associated with meeting Scotland’s climate change targets?
A just transition to zero carbon presents an opportunity to build thriving, resilient
communities based around local jobs, environmental protection, community ownership and a circular economy. Our response focuses on two key challenges, but there are many others.

Land use
Scotland’s peatlands are a vital carbon sink and fundamental to meeting Scotland’s and the UK’s climate targets. The UK narrative and funding in support of tree planting does not take into account the Scottish context, where grant-backed conifer planting is destroying shallow peatland sites. Restoring all peatlands, including shallow peat, is the most effective action Scotland could take to sequester carbon. Much stronger regulation is needed to prevent damage to peatlands through extraction, burning, draining or tree planting. Expert advice should be available to all farmers and landowners on how to make best use of their land for carbon sequestration. Incentives to use land as a carbon sink should not undermine sustainable food production where that is the optimal use of the land. Grants and training should be provided for all farmers to cut their emissions and adopt agroecological farming methods, which promote soil health (including its ability to act as a carbon sink) and biodiversity and eliminate the need for highly polluting artificial fertilisers.

Ending car dependency
A transition to electric cars will not solve the problem of transport emissions. An entirely
green grid will take time to achieve; and the greater the demand for electricity, the harder it will be. Electric cars are part of the transition, but walking, cycling and public transport must come first, along with reducing the need to travel through provision of local jobs and services and good broadband.

Investment in cycle infrastructure is needed, and would have substantial public health
benefits: Western countries with the highest levels of active travel generally have the lowest obesity rates. Estimates vary, but one report found that increasing the cycling rate to 27% of all journeys could save the Scottish economy £4 billion/yearii. However, figures from the new National Transport Strategy show cycling on Scotland’s roads declined from 2012 to 2017.iii

The existing commitment to decarbonise rail routes by 2035 is welcome, but needs to be
brought forward to ensure zero-emission trains can replace old diesel trains as they are
retired. Bus routes need to be protected and improved, particularly in rural areas. We
welcome the steps being taken towards this, including the £500m fund announced last year. However, a more comprehensive approach is still needed, to include new research clarifying what it is that people actually need, better integration of different transport modes to enable multi-modal journeys, and a review of all planned transport infrastructure projects, with projects only going ahead if they are projected to reduce emissions.

We support Transform Scotland’s call for all organisations to rule out air travel for trips
within mainland Britain; the public sector could and should take the lead on this.

What would a successful transition to net-zero emissions look like for your
sector/community?
Many Quakers are involved in local projects based on mutual aid, democratic participation and more collaborative and communal ways of living. This is at the heart of our vision for a more equal and sustainable society. A zero-carbon society must embrace these principles and foster strong local networks of sharing and support. This includes support for community farms and gardens, community asset ownership, community energy, co-housing and co-operative housing models, reuse and repair initiatives, ‘libraries of things’ (as well as more traditional libraries), and training in the skills that make these projects thrive.

We must ensure that the transition to zero emissions does not leave behind the same
people who are already struggling and marginalised. All policies should be assessed for their impact on low-income households as well as for their carbon impact. Crucially, the value that is created through public investment – be it land value or wealth enabled by new technology – must be captured and retained for public benefit, through taxation, planning and land use policy, and support for community and employee ownership. Without measures to enable this, wealth will continue to flow upwards, and many people will continue to have no stake in Scotland’s prosperity. There is good evidence that emissions are lower in more equal societies, so policies that promote equality are key to reaching our climate targets as well as being a moral duty.
The major changes that are needed will only be just and sustainable if citizens are involved in decision-making. While there is much that can be done now – from mass retrofitting programmes to investment in public transport – genuine public participation and not “tick box consultation” is needed where decisions could have negative impacts or will involve significant inconvenience. There is widespread support for stronger climate action, and for us not to return, post-pandemic, to a ‘normal’ that was failing so many people.iv

The transition is an opportunity to rethink our relationship with production and
consumption and the way we treat our living planet. These are difficult issues, but if we fail to confront them now, a safe, post-fossil fuel era will remain out of reach.

What actions do you think the Scottish Government should take to manage the
opportunities and challenges referenced above?
Stop funding fossil fuels and high-carbon infrastructure: end fossil fuel and aviation
subsidies; require the carbon impact of all spending decisions to be assessed; publish a
carbon impact account alongside future Budgets to show the overall carbon impact of
government spending decisions.
Provide more support for a post-fossil fuel future: invest in walking and cycling and rural bus routes; support community renewable energy; invest in energy efficient homes; support sustainable food production; provide adequate funding for peatland restoration; provide funding and support for local authorities and communities to cut their emissions and build resilience. The Scottish National Investment Bank could be key to investment in a just transition. The welcome inclusion of a legislative requirement for the Bank to invest in projects that promote a just transition to zero carbon, needs strengthening to rule out lending to fossil fuel producers and other polluting industries. Oil and gas-based products (as opposed to fossil fuels) must be limited to those with a non-polluting footprint: 1 not fuel; 2 longterm recyclable.’

Design policies to benefit low-income households first: the transition to zero carbon must
address economic and social inequalities in the UK, and all policies should be assessed
against their impact on low-income households.

Support a global just transition: while this consultation relates to Scotland, it is important
not to lose sight of the global picture. Scotland and the UK have overwhelmingly benefited from cheap fossil fuel energy, while communities in the global South who have not enjoyed the same benefits are now suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Scotland and the UK have an opportunity to show leadership by both reducing emissions rapidly and ensuring that policy decisions do not reinforce existing global inequalities. Much of this is in the hands of the UK government, but we urge the Scottish government to align its own policy and investment decisions with the principles of climate justice. To give one key example: in embracing renewable energy and new technologies, the government should seek to ensure that it is not supporting exploitative and destructive mining in the global South.

We welcome the new Climate Change Act’s recognition of the need to address overall
consumption emissions, as well as the inclusion of just transition and climate justice
principles. We are disappointed that the government blocked amendments that would have required Ministers to set out steps taken to ensure that policies to cut emissions in Scotland do not reduce the ability of other countries to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals.

The climate crisis is a global challenge and must be addressed through international
collaboration. A zero-carbon transition which pits one country’s interests against another’s cannot be just, and we hope to see this omission rectified.

The Scottish government could also use its voice in support of debt relief and grants for poor countries hit by climate disasters, and push the UK government to acknowledge the
principle of ‘fair shares’ based on historic emissions, which demands a much greater
contribution than the UK is currently making.

Are there specific groups or communities that may be, or feel that they may be,
adversely affected by a transition to a net-zero carbon economy? What steps can be taken to address their concerns?
Unless policies are specifically designed to promote equality, the same people who have
been left behind under the current system will suffer again. Communities which have
suffered as a result of previous economic transitions (such as the decline of coal mining) are likely to be sceptical and should be brought into decision-making at the earliest possible stage. Full participation of unions and community groups will result in better policymaking and broader public support.

i https://positivemoney.org/2020/05/new-polling-only-12-want-uk-to-prioritise-economic-growth-overwellbeing/
ii http://transformscotland.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Towards-a-Healthier-
Economy.pdf
iii Transport and Travel in Scotland 2017, Table i: Traffic and passenger numbers in Scotland, 2012 to 2017



 


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The money behind the climate denial movement

Source:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/meet-the-money-behind-the-climate-denial-movement-180948204/?fbclid=IwAR0WzMd3LacjLTilr0UG_00vCHRTdX4ZJU7XaBS5lFQYPGSYX2d6CpnMliU

Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, international governmental bodies, relevant research institutes and scientific societies are in unison in saying that climate change is real, that it’s a problem, and that we should probably do something about it now, not later. And yet, for some reason, the idea persists in some peoples’ minds that climate change is up for debate, or that climate change is no big deal.

Actually, it’s not “for some reason” that people are confused. There’s a very obvious reason. There is a very well-funded, well-orchestrated climate change-denial movement, one funded by powerful people with very deep pockets. In a new and incredibly thorough study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle took a deep dive into the financial structure of the climate deniers, to see who is holding the purse strings.

According to Brulle’s research, the 91 think tanks and advocacy organizations and trade associations that make up the American climate denial industry pull down just shy of a billion dollars each year, money used to lobby or sway public opinion on climate change and other issues.

“The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires,” says the Guardian, “often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change.”

“This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power,” Brulle said. “They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hire people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don’t have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy.”

placards

Brulle stated that his project is the first of three; in the future he’ll turn a similar eye to the climate movement and to the environmental movement. But for now, the focus was on the deniers.

Now, what you can see in the movement itself is that it has two real roots. One is in the conservative movement itself, in that you see a lot of conservative foundations that had been funding the growth of the conservative movement all along now appear as funding the climate countermovement. You also can see dedicated industry foundations that come in to start funding the climate countermovement. So it’s kind of a combination of both industry and conservative philanthropies that are funding this process, and what they did was they borrowed a great deal of the strategy and tactics that came out of the tobacco industry’s efforts to prevent action on the health impacts of smoking.

What you see is the tactics that this movement uses were developed and tested in the tobacco industry first, and now they’re being applied to the climate change movement, and in fact, some of the same people and some of the same organizations that were involved in the tobacco issue are also involved in climate change.

Here’s where the money is coming from:

The climate denial movement is a powerful political force, says Brulle. They’ve got to be, too, to outweigh in the public’s mind the opinions of pretty much every relevant scientist. Brulle:

With delay and obfuscation as their goals, the U.S. CCCM has been quite successful in recent decades. However, the key actors in this cultural and political conflict are not just the “experts” who appear in the media spotlight. The roots of climate-change denial go deeper, because individuals’ efforts have been bankrolled and directed by organizations that receive sustained support from foundations and funders known for their overall commitments to conservative causes. Thus to fully understand the opposition to climate change legislation, we need to focus on the institutionalized efforts that have built and maintain this organized campaign. Just as in a theatrical show, there are stars in the spotlight. In the drama of climate change, these are often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians, such as Senator James Inhofe. However, they are only the most visible and transparent parts of a larger production. Supporting this effort are directors, script writers, and, most importantly, a series of producers, in the form of conservative foundations. Clarifying the institutional dynamics of the CCCM can aid our understanding of how anthropogenic climate change has been turned into a controversy rather than a scientific fact in the U.S.

With acknowledgements to Colin Schultz, a Canadian writer and editor.



Following on from this is an interesting piece of research in the UK, reported in The Guardian. The analysis found that Conservative MPs were five times more likely to vote against climate action than MPs from other parties.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/11/tory-mps-five-times-more-likely-to-vote-against-climate-action

Written by Jonathan Watts and Pamela Duncan, it gives details of parliamentary voting over the last decade on climate-related issues by UK MPs.  Sadly, the current Prime Minister does not come out well in it, despite the fact that his father has spoken publicly in support of Extinction Rebellion. Boris Johnson scored zero in the analysis.

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.


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Denouncing climate activists will not save the planet

The Financial Times has been increasingly drawing attention to the issues of climate change and I applaud them in this.  However, they have a policy of not wanting their readers to copy and distribute the text of articles published in their paper.  To me, this is a contradiction in terms.  If they really support actions against climate change, they ought to support the duplication of the vital messages they publish.

I am therefore just copying below a portion of a very interesting article, published in the Financial Times on 11th October 2019 and written by Camilla Cavendish, a former head of the Downing Street policy unit and a Harvard senior fellow, in the hope that the readers of this website will want to read the whole article and therefore subscribe to the FT.



“Extinction Rebellion draws the ire of those who refuse to change their own habits

Will a few Happy Meals break the planet? As Extinction Rebellion continued its genteel, witty, highly effective climate change protests this week, one commentator tried to shame some activists queueing at a London branch of McDonald’s. History does not relate whether Big Macs were ordered (more likely the spicy veggie wraps), but that did not dampen the indignation. We humans are brilliant at distracting ourselves from uncomfortable truths.

While a majority of the public now agree that climate change is an urgent issue, there is still resentment of the messengers. Hence the widespread carping that activists haven’t made sacrifices in their own lives — which is somewhat unfair, given that more than 1,000 have been arrested in London this week, at least 100 in Amsterdam and 30 in Sydney. Not everyone is merrily camping in “hemp-smelling bivouacs”, as UK prime minister Boris Johnson suggested. Many I met were cold, tired and dreading jail. It’s the rest of us bystanders who are the real hypocrites — we project sympathy but continue to freeride on the planet. I can’t count the number of commuters, drivers and friends who have told me this week that they agree about the climate, and feel that “someone should do something”, but haven’t made a single change in their own habits. At least the conversation has started. The climate movement is rapidly turning Big Oil into the new Big Tobacco……

When I studied environmental economics 20 years ago, it was axiomatic that we should tax pollution. But ferocious lobbying by vested interests has prevailed, partly because governments fear voters are addicted to cheap fuel, food and flights. Hence, the UK’s trumpeted carbon budgets do not include emissions from shipping or aviation. Now, climate activists have created a willingness to hear inconvenient facts about how much manufacturing pollution we have outsourced, for example, to low-cost countries like China…..

The west’s record is not as rosy as we pretend. Denial from the White House does not justify inaction elsewhere. If European societies stick together and tread more lightly on the planet, we could be a model — while, incidentally, selling the world our low-carbon technologies. Analysis by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change suggests that to get anywhere near zero carbon we must ration our driving, flying and meat consumption. If we won’t do so voluntarily, it may eventually be imposed on us, and not only by a government of the left.

There is a growing literature about “climate grief”, the overwhelming sadness at what is happening as species and habitats are wiped out. The enormity of the task makes it natural to feel like giving up and having a Happy Meal. But watching footage of 91 year-old protester John Lynes hobbling into a police van, I remembered what my great-aunt used to say: “A society grows stronger when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” There is something profoundly moving about watching different generations campaigning together for a better future. Rather than attack them, is it so outrageous to ask that we each start making some changes in our own lives?”

John Lynes

John Lynes (91) being arrested for supporting Extinction Rebellion

A video of him being arrested can be found in the Metro newspaper online news.



 


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Draft London Environment Strategy – have your say

In August 2017, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a draft Environmental Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.  Responses need to be lodged by 17th November 2017.  An excellent document, it can be found through the following link:

Click to access draft_environment_strategy_-_executive_summary.pdf

The Mayor of London’s website introduces the consultation document as follows:

“The state of London’s environment affects everyone who lives in and visits the city – it helps Londoners to stay healthy, makes London a good place to work and keeps the city functioning from day to day.

Today London is facing a host of environmental challenges. Toxic air, noise pollution, the threat to our green spaces, and the adverse effects of climate change, all pose major risks to the health and wellbeing of Londoners.

We need to act now to tackle the most urgent environmental challenges facing our city as well as safeguard London’s environment over the longer term. We need to ensure that London is greenercleaner and ready for the future.

This is the first strategy to bring together approaches to every aspect of London’s environment. It is divided into the following areas:

•    Air quality
•    Green infrastructure
•    Climate change mitigation and energy
•    Waste
•    Adapting to climate change
•    Ambient noise

Mayor's Environment Strategy


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Brexit ‘threatens extinction of some animals and plants’ by Michael McHugh

This report focuses on the flora and fauna of Ireland and was published in The Times on 25th September 2017:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/brexit-threatens-extinction-of-some-animals-and-plants-39x2p2523

Environmentalists have warned that a fifth are already threatened and that a hard border (between Ireland and Northern Ireland) could weaken protection of those species most at risk.  Lobby groups have visited Brussels to voice their concerns.

According to Patrick Casement, chairman of the Northern Ireland Environment Link, more than 650 pieces of EU legislation have helped environmental protection on the island. An all-island green coalition said the Irish environment has benefited hugely from these laws. They created a more co-ordinated and consistent approach to addressing cross-border environmental issues, such as the conservation of species and habitats, the lobbyists said.

Brexit negotiations have so far focused on the economy, with little mention of the impact on natural heritage.

Ireland

Irish countryside in the area of Co. Cork from Travellerspoint Travel Photography


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The Uninhabitable Earth: a worst-case climate scenario

On July 9th 2017, New York Magazine published an article with this title, which led to a burst of media comment and controversy. It quickly became the most-read article in the magazine’s history.  See: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans-annotated.html, written by David Wallace-Wells which summarises the response to the original article.

Another, deeply thoughtful, response, written by David Korten for Common Dreams is entitled, ‘For the Love of Earth’ and can be found at:

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/02/love-earth

Korten discusses the concept of Earth being a living super-organism (from Lovelock – and discussed also in my book Three Generations Left). The concept is about the Earth being able to self-regulate its systems (discussed also in Chapter 1 of my book “Our Beautiful World in Harmony”, which can also be found on this website). It is widely believed by many that the earth will ultimately recover from human’s destructive behaviour, which in some has led to complacency.

Korten goes on to say that “We are destabilizing the climate through the release of sequestered carbons; disrupting natural habitats through ocean acidification and temperature change; destroying natural forest and grassland habitats; and depleting, degrading, and contaminating soils and sources of fresh water on which all species depend. This in turn drives species extinction and renders growing areas of Earth uninhabitable.”  His contention is that humans have become like an invasive species and he quotes from Clive Hamilton’s book, Defiant Earth: the Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene”, also reviewed in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/the-great-climate-silence-we-are-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-but-we-ignore-it.

Korten’s view is that, having brought the earth and its species to the brink of extinction, it is now our responsibility to heal it – and that we do have this within our power.

burning

All this puts me in the mind of a piece I read this morning, some research by geoscientists, who have drawn the conclusion that the human species first left Africa to settle in Asia and Europe 60,000 years ago, in order to escape a climate change phenomenon. Using sediment samples from the Horn of Africa, the team found that Africa had undergone a major climate transformation at that time. Its previously fertile ‘Green Sahara’ had started to dry out, in fact at around the time humanity started to leave the Sahara was even drier than it is now, and a lot colder.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/humans-first-left-africa-because-of-climate-change_uk_59d5f911e4b0cde45873067e?

People are already saying that there is now nowhere on Earth that we can escape to this time, and suggesting that we need to find another planet to live on.

Can we heal the effects of what we have done here – or is it already too late?

Yet another take on it all was published in The Times on 19th September 2017 by their Environment Editor, Ben Webster.  His review suggests that senior scientists are now saying that the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, as the world is warming more slowly than they had forecast earlier using computer models.  New projections suggest that the world has now a better chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees target of global warming, than was previously thought. The study is published in Nature Geoscience. See the Times article at:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/we-were-wrong-worst-effects-of-climate-change-can-be-avoided-say-scientists-k9p5hg5l0

However, as mentioned above, I don’t think there is any room for complacency.  How do we know that these scientists have not come under political pressure from those with business interests and want to keep the status quo?  But it suggests that we still have time to heal the effects of what we have done. Perhaps we should listen to David Korten. But are enough of us fully motivated to make the lifestyle changes that are needed?


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Countries prepare for a 2018 meeting to check on the progress of the Paris Agreement

This information has been copied from the website of the UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

http://newsroom.unfccc.int/paris-agreement/countries-prepare-how-to-check-paris-progress-in-2018/

“Preparations for an important formal discussion next year between countries – known as the “facilitative dialogue” – on progress to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement were advanced at a meeting in Rabat, Morocco, on September 7-8, 2017.

The detailed results can be seen in this meeting note from the Presidencies.

Preliminary thinking announced at the meeting by country heads of climate change delegations and the incoming and outgoing UN Climate Change Conference Presidencies Morocco and Fiji would structure the dialogue around three key questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The presidencies will continue to engage with countries on preparations before reporting on this to the next COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, on 7-16 November 2017.  During this conference, delegates, journalists and observers are invited to visit 18 beacon projects, which demonstrate the energy transition that Germany is currently going through. See: http://www.energieagentur.nrw/english/cop23.

In Paris, in 2015, countries agreed to hold the dialogue which, among other objectives, will be focused on solutions to meet the Paris Agreement goals and will look to encourage rising ambition of country’s national climate plans (NDCs).

The in-coming Fiji Presidency is keen for countries to engage in the spirit of Talanoa, a Fijian term that refers to a mutually beneficial building of relationships and sharing of ideas. This underpins the objective of the dialogue where countries aim to gather information and resolve problems with each other, in an atmosphere of transparency and inclusiveness.

The dialogue will consist of two phases:

  • The Preparatory phase will start at the UN sessional climate change meeting period in May, 2018, and will end at the beginning of COP24, at the end of the year. However, it is expected that Parties will start work earlier through national and regional discussions.
  • The Political phase will take place at COP24 and is intended to attract high-level political attention and focus on the objectives of the dialogue, in particular, how to achieve more in the next NDCs from countries.

To help transparency and inclusiveness in the process, the UN Climate Change secretariat will be creating an online platform before May to gather all inputs to the dialogue.