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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:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GhiqQBB8e3SU710vb6GNn9sUELwVjIOR/view

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

CLIMATE AND ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY BILL 

A BILL TO  

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, 

namely— 

(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 

 



 


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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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Extinction Rebellion’s October Actions: “the sun rises on a new wave of rebellion”

This has been copied from XR’s latest email:

“It’s happening. It can’t be ignored. It’s only growing stronger.

It’s a rebellion.

We’re back on the roads – with as much joy, fear, love and courage as ever. We’re shutting down cities – not because it’s fun (though it can be), but because it’s our last option for stopping this toxic system in its tracks.

Our world is dying. To save it, we’ll need everyone – wherever and whoever you are – to do your bit.

And though we’re still somewhat short of the shared, global consciousness we need, we’re getting ever closer.

This International Rebellion which began on Monday is so vast it’s almost impossible to take it all in. Thousands of people flood 60 cities across the globe, with over 700 brave rebels arrested as they stand up for their right to life, and that’s just the start.

It’s not just a question of quantity. With every season that passes, we grow more organised, more unified, more creative, more courageous.

Just look at the 11 vibrant sites held around the centre of London, the choir of Amsterdam rebels, the blood poured on the bull statue in Wall Street in New York, the ambition of our banner-hangers, the Red Brigade arriving in Tel Aviv and Istanbul, underwater protest art in Mexico, and the boats of every shape and size that we are so desperately trying to keep afloat.

We’re a movement unlike any other.

This newsletter team will do everything we can to keep up and to showcase the unreal brilliance of our young movement. We can only apologise in advance for not capturing every aspect of this glorious, unfathomably complex process that is our rebellion.

We hope that wherever this reaches you – whether you’re superglued to a road, camping out in the rain, deep in spreadsheets and planning, or at home drinking your coffee – you will be touched by what is going on right now all over the world.

We hope you understand that it’s for you, and for every human being alive and not yet alive.

You are not alone in this. And it’s not too late to join in.

If you’d like to help, please check out our guide and learn more about XR.

To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own!

If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.

As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.

London Blockades Westminster

7 OCT | London, UK

Over 275 rebels have been arrested on a momentous day which marks the beginning of XR’s October Rebellion in London. Early on Monday morning, rebels from all over the country mobilised and successfully took 11 main sites around Westminster in central London, including two key bridges.

Rebels drove a hearse into the ‘Burning Earth’ site in Trafalgar Square, parked it, and locked and glued themselves to the vehicle. The ‘undertaker’ in the drivers’ seat D-locked himself to the steering wheel by the neck.

Footage broadcast on ITV News shows police officers desperately trying to prevent more rebels gluing themselves underneath the vehicle, as well as a deeply moving moment where a father locked onto the underside of the hearse reveals why he is taking this drastic measure. In the back of the hearse, rebels had mounted a coffin painted with the words ‘OUR FUTURE’.

 

Meanwhile, a tower of scaffolding was positioned in the road, which rebels climbed and glued onto. They held this for most of the day, before being lifted off in orange sacks by police officers kitted out in climbing gear.

In an exciting turn of events, a rebel wedding was held in the middle of the blocked Westminster Bridge (a first for the bridge, as far as we know!) to the sound of XR cheers and a feisty brass band. Love was truly in the air.

Also seen on the bridge were yoga enthusiasts, a ceilidh with bagpipes, and, floating beneath the bridge, an XR boat headed for the Houses of Parliament.

Despite the efforts of peacefully protesting rebels in London today, pre-planned and persistent police confiscations have left blockades lacking infrastructure and amenities. However, officers failed to confiscate the rebel spirit, which lives on in furious love and determination.

Paris – All in the same boat!

7 OCT | 15:00 onwards | Place de Chatelet, Paris, France

XR France managed to block and occupy Paris’ most central and busiest intersection, near the Nôtre-Dame cathedral. Rebels, aware of the sensitivity of the site, kept the location secret until the last minute and attached themselves to flower planters to complicate police efforts to remove them.

Rebels who remember the pink boat in Oxford Circus will be pleased to hear that its blue brother has crossed the channel for this October and cast its anchor in Parisian waters.

As we are ‘all in the same boat’, its DJs and dancers are inviting passers-by to join this festive occupation in all of its creativity, and keep the troops energized and regenerated for a lasting rebellion.

Climate Camp Berlin

7 OCT | Berlin, Germany

 

Our uprising begins! From early morning, 1000 rebels blocked the “Big Star” roundabout surrounding Berlin’s Siegessäule. As the sun rose, peaceful rebels danced and sang.

Our ship, the Arche Rebella, has been put together once again in a new location.

Berlin rebellion takes to the air!

3000 rebels held Potsdamer Platz with the help of lots of potted plants and a Red Brigade – the site was buzzing. Rebels continued to hold the Platz for longer than expected, with some chaining themselves together.

Even as police threatened rebels with physical violence if they failed to clear the blockade, they were dancing, singing and sending out a strong signal about the climate crisis.

It was early evening before police were able to begin slowly clearing rebels. Two thousand rebels remained and the good mood continued as food was shared, even as police began confiscating our equipment.

Madrid – Dia Uno

7 OCT | Madrid, Spain

Madrid rebels had a dramatic first day of Rebellion! 300 rebels surrounded a pink boat to block a bridge and were greeted by an alarming police response that included twisting arms, pressing thumbs into rebels’ eyes and putting pressure under their jaws.

10 rebels were hospitalised and many others suffered minor injuries. There were 43 arrests that day in Madrid.

But their spirits were not broken. The rebels went onto cause further disruption and set up camp in front of Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition. Rebels dressed in red, blue and brown – representing forest fires, rising sea levels and desertification – stalked others dressed in animal costumes in a striking performance about mass extinction.

Read the full story here.

Amsterdam Rebels

7 OCT | Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam rebelled against a ban imposed by the mayor and police and brought non-violent direct action to the heart of the city. In the early hours, eager rebels gathered to block off roads in front of the city’s famous museums.

In addition to beautiful paintings by Vermeer and Van Gogh, tourists viewed the modern decor of brave earth-protectors fighting for their democracy and freedom of speech. The site then toured around the Heineken Experience to make sure any tourists there didn’t miss out.

In a miscalculated response, the police blocked off the first protest site, playing into our rebels’ hands, who staged an impromptu die-in on the Dam square instead.

The protests ended in over 100 arrests with rebels responding to police aggression by collectively chanting ‘We are peaceful, what are you?

Four large city buses transported the arrestees away. Cries of peaceful resistance and tunes from the buses echoed far and wide through the capital’s narrow streets and over the canals.

The Bull of Wall Street

7 OCT | New York, USA

Around 90 New York rebels were arrested yesterday after they launched a wave of actions in the city’s famous financial district. Protesters poured fake blood over Wall Street’s iconic Bull statue, held a very bloody die-in outside the New York stock exchange, and then blocked a nearby road.

The die-in was attended by the stunning Red Brigade, and featured a New Orleans funeral band that got the hundreds of rebellious mourners dancing in the streets.

Tombstones mentioning hurricanes and fires made worse by the climate crisis were held aloft, along with a coffin with the words ‘Our future’ written on the side. Once the fun was over, rebels clean-up crews stepped in to mop the fake blood away.

Police set up a perimeter and arrested rebels in waves. Despite the high arrest count, the sunkissed rebellion base in nearby Washington Square park was buzzing.

Actions will be continuing here over the coming days, and are expected to spread to Chicago and Washington DC later in the week.

For more details on what the rebels of New York are up to, check out their daily updates.

A new chapter for XR Canada

7 OCT | Toronto, Canada

XR Toronto gathered at Playter Gardens for a day of Rebellion. After an early morning briefing, protesters took to the Bloor Viaduct with banners, signs, and megaphones, numbers bolstered by other groups and allies.

There, they cordoned off the bridge and nearby Danforth Avenue from rush-hour traffic, allowing the space to play host to a multitude of activities. In addition to activist speeches and performances, the group participated in singing, meditation and yoga sessions while other protestors chalked messages along the concrete.

As the morning wore on, police announced a request for dispersal, yet several rebels remained. This group sat or stood in front of large, red and yellow “Act Now” block letters while the rest of the protesters swelled to either side of Danforth Avenue with songs of peace and hope.

19 arrestees were eventually taken into police cars and driven off; the remaining group returned to Playter Gardens for camaraderie and regeneration.

Toronto’s action upon the Viaduct reached a wide audience of receptive hearts. Hard work is ahead but another river has undoubtedly been crossed. With actions from Halifax to Victoria, today marked a new chapter of XR’s fight for climate justice in Canada.

Aussie rebels bring the heat

7 OCT | Melbourne, Australia

The day began with a sacred ceremony on the steps of Parliament House, when rebels, still waking up, took gum leaves and received the welcome via smoke cleansing before moving back to the central campsite of Carlton Gardens.

Upwards of a thousand people came together at 16:00 for a march through the CBD (Central Business District), which was successfully disrupted from 16:00 – 19:00, in a colourful, energetic, peaceful, respectful action. Some carried a glass coffin, like a fish tank, filled with aquatic plants and rocks to illustrate concern for about the impact of climate change on oceans.

The plan was to march through the city creating swarms in key intersections as a taste of actions that will follow for the entire week. The police had a strong presence, including mounted officers. 11 rebels were arrested, sacrificing their liberty to draw attention to the climate emergency and the need to act.

XR Victoria acknowledges that Camp Carlton and the Spring Rebellion take place on the stolen land of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Everyone puts their oar in to help block this intersection in Wellington, New Zealand. 45 were arrested on the first day

Excitingly, XR India and Sri Lanka held their first ever XR actions on the 6th – rebels acted with incredible heart and courage even amidst possible police interference. Meanwhile in New Zealand, rebels blocked streets with the iconic pink boat.

In Latin America, rebels turned out in Chile, Colombia, and Mexico to call for immediate action from their governments. Brazilian rebels held a die-in on Copacabana beach and XR Argentina held three different rebellious actions in Buenos Aires.

Europe truly outdid itself this time, with bold, creative actions happening all over, including Athens, Vienna, Rome, Istanbul, and Chisinau, Moldova (to name but a few).

Across the globe, rebels took to the streets with fiery love to call on everyone to act now to mitigate the climate and ecological crisis.

Blood runs over Italian rebels in front of Montecitorio Palace, Rome

Rebels in Los Cabos, Mexico, perform underwater in a stunning piece about modern life called ‘The vanity, the distraction, the blindness’

In Vienna, rebels turned out in their hundreds to peacefully disrupt the city. 70 rebels were arrested.

Argentine rebels proudly hung a banner off this lovely tower in Retiro, Buenos Aires

Sri Lankan rebels braved torrential rain to launch their first ever XR action

XR Content

 

Humans of XR

‘Hi, I’m Nathaniel. I will be turning one during the Rebellion. My mummy is an XR fundraiser and my daddy teaches social justice at University. My older sister went to the Youth Climate Strike, although she is a bit too young to understand the urgency of the situation.

I don’t understand any of these things because I’m a baby. You do.

I can’t act, because I can’t even walk yet. You can. I can’t speak up for the world, because I only know one word. You can.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. This rebellion has been magnificent so far – and it’s only Day 1!

Keep up the good work!”

If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com.



It has been known for a long time that XR was planning a massive 2-week-long demonstration in October 2019.  Now it has started.

It would seem that some agencies in the UK are getting worried about this.

  • Facebook ads about the rebellion are being removed;
  • The police raided a storage facility in London being used to store equipment to support the rebellion – and removed it;
  • The media is, so far, not giving a high profile in the TV news to events in London;
  • a higher number of people are being arrested in London than were in the April action.

Are similar repressions happening elsewhere in the world?



 


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Extinction Rebellion joins forces with anti-HS2 campaign to save ancient woods

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/14/anti-hs2-campaigners-join-forces-extinction-rebellion-save-britains/

At least 108 ancient woods in England are threatened by proposals to build a high speed train link (HS2) across the country, with phase one already underway.

These woods are crucial spots for biodiversity, because the trees are hundreds of years old and have therefore become important habitats for rare invertebrates, as well as bats and birds.  The woodlands also absorb carbon from the atmosphere, playing a part in combating global warming. HS2 is currently under review as the government decides whether to continue the costly and environmentally destructive project – but work is still continuing on preparing its route.

ancient woods

Mark Keir, an organiser for Stop-HS2 said, “HS2 is ripping up a vast area of ancient woodland and there’s going to be such an incredible loss of biodiversity.

“We have 2,400 species in this area, we have otters, water voles, eels, glow worms, barn owls, tawny owls, little owls, kestrel, kite, buzzard, sparrowhawk, peregrines. There are 120 species of bird that nest in the trees and it’s the most biodiverse area of London; we can’t afford to lose it.

“It’s a meeting between middle England and Extinction Rebellion, what Extinction Rebellion has done really well is bring middle England into the fray. We’ve made middle England active and not before time.

“We are the lungs of London and the water supply of London, we can’t throw it away.

“Every ancient tree that gets cut down, a 900 year old tree has 900 years worth of biodiversity in it. If you plant a new tree now, it’ll take 900 years to get anywhere near that.”

Chris Packham, from BBC’s Springwatch programme, will be joining the protesters at a demonstration at Euston Station on 28th September.

A list of ancient woods in England can be found in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_woods_in_England



 


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Global Climate Strike on 20th September

This is happening all over the world but, in the UK, the following link will tell you of the event nearest to where you live:

Find your nearest strike

Over 4000 events have been planned, in 120 countries.


The website of Scientists for Global Responsibility is supporting the strike through the following piece:

The Climate Strike – why we should all stop work to start change

It can seem odd that a refusal to act is a good way to motivate action, writes Andrew Simms, Scientists for Global Responsibility. It appears even stranger when that refusal to act comes at a cost to the ‘refuser’, such as your own education. But striking has been a tool of change for most of recorded history for good reasons, and often at great cost to those taking action.

Responsible Science blog, 17 September 2019

A movement of millions of school age climate strikers has grown in just the last year to challenge governments to change direction.

If you are powerless directly to take decisions, and have exhausted all other ways of trying to push for change, withdrawing your consent, participation or labour is a powerful act of last resort.

But now there’s a kind of strike that is distinct and different, in nature and scale.

A movement of millions of school age climate strikers has grown in just the last year to challenge governments and older generations to change direction.

A quarter of a century since the UN’s convention on climate change (UNFCCC) was agreed at the Earth Summit in 1992, instead of charting a new course to avoid climate breakdown, globally we are accelerating towards it.

This summer Greenland appeared to lose more ice in a single month than the average annual loss from 2002 up till now.

The concentration of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, largely released by humanity’s burning of coal, oil and gas, rose steeply over 2018-2019 for the seventh consecutive year, to the highest level for around 3 million years, and the highest yet experienced by human civilisation. The rate of rise too has increased, with last year being the second highest rate of rise in six decades. Record breaking extreme weather events abound from hurricanes to uncontrollable forest fires. This summer Greenland appeared to lose more ice in a single month than the average annual loss from 2002 up till now. Britain’s former chief scientific advisor, David King, called the faster pace of climate breakdown ‘scary’.

Quite reasonably, an emerging generation might expect those in control and taking decisions to act in the public, and the biosphere’s, interest and take urgent action. We’re taught from the earliest stages of life about how to ‘stay safe’. In playgrounds, crossing roads, near water or drugs, or among strangers in public places, the constant exhortation of the older generation to the younger is to take care and keep away from danger.

It must seem absolutely bizarre that where the biosphere is concerned, something which provides our fundamental life support system, the message is the opposite – a kind of ‘let’s light it, burn it, and see what happens.’

In the UK alone, which has cultivated an international reputation for leading on climate action, recent policy choices have been the climate equivalent of sending children out to play in traffic.

The UK already accounts for a staggering one in twelve of all flights taken globally, with 70 per cent of flights being taken by frequent flyers who make up just 15 per cent of the population. But plans to expand the UK’s main airport, Heathrow, could wreck plans to hit a zero carbon target. The government is also committed to expanding the highly polluting process of fracking, and fully draining the North Sea oil and gas fields, in spite of estimates that show most known fossil fuel reserves are unsafe to burn.

And, while onshore wind is the UK’s cheapest and most popular clean, renewable energy source, restrictive planning conditions and rules blocking mainland wind projects from government contracts in subsidy auctions are effectively killing any developments. Similarly, after a period of impressive expansion, the government suddenly cut support for solar power leading to the sector going into decline. Plans for zero carbon homes have been dropped and there are still a wide range of subsidies handed out to dirty fossil fuels.

It must seem absolutely bizarre that where the biosphere is concerned, the message is the opposite to ‘stay safe’ – a kind of ‘let’s light it, smoke it, and see what happens’.

If you want a future and can’t yet vote, what else is a younger generation supposed to do to get its voice heard other than strike?

So far, the schools strikes have been creative and inspired people of all ages to action, not to mention giving renewed hope and vigour to the tired many who have campaigned for decades for action on the climate crisis. But still there has been no response in terms of the scale and speed of action needed, so the ambition of the strikes is growing, going truly global and calling on people of all ages to take part.

Of course, it’s not just about striking, the strikes are also backing calls for a Green New Deal. And, there is now a Green New Deal Bill before Parliament that calls for a rapid programme of decarbonisation and the reversal of inequality in the UK, between now and 2030. So now we have something to fight against, and something to fight for, a zero carbon, more equal economy.

In the UK alone recent policies have been the climate equivalent of sending children out to play in traffic.

Other campaign tactics haven’t worked. So now we have the school strikes. The right to strike is part of a fully functioning democracy, and something is needed to push through change when, as now, systems become entrenched and inertia prevents progress.

It’s logical too. Going on strike is one of the few choices available to people who are distant from decision-making and appear powerless. Greta Thunberg puts it unambiguously, “We are fighting for our lives”. The school strikers have already transformed global awareness of the climate emergency. As scientists and engineers, SGR stands in solidarity with them, as we all should. Then we should get to work to make sure that a Green New Deal becomes law so that we all have a future to look forward to.
Andrew Simms is Assistant Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility.


 


 


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Birmingham City Council declares a Climate Emergency

After much campaigning from environmental groups, such as Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, Climate Action West Midlands, a cross-party motion was debated by the Council on June 11th 2019 and passed unanimously.

Coinciding with the debate was a demonstration outside the Council House, by various groups, including young people, and the presentation of a petition from Extinction Rebellion, which was signed by over 3,000 people, calling for the Council to:

  1. Debate the climate emergency motion at full council;
  2. Pledge to make the city of Birmingham carbon neutral by 2025;
  3. Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make this target achievable;
  4. Work with other local authorities on methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C;
  5. Work with partners across the West Midlands to deliver this goal;
  6. Report to Full Council within six months with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

Birmingham

This is a brief interview conducted outside the Council House by the BBC’s Regional programme Midlands Today:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/urz1aypui8cvd5o/2019-06-11%20BCC%20Climate%20Emergency%20Petition%20BBC%20Midlands%20Today%2013-30.mp4?dl=0

The knowledge about the imminent presentation of this petition triggered councillors into presenting their own cross-party motion for debate on 11th June.

The motion debated was as follows:

To consider the following Motion of which notice has been given.
Councillors Robert Alden, Roger Harmer, Julien Pritchard and Lisa Trickett as proposers and Councillors Jon Hunt, Suzanne Webb and Waseem Zaffar as seconders have given notice of the following Notice of Motion:-

“This Council notes that
• The Climate Crisis is an existential threat that requires us to change the way we invest in, grow and sustain our cities and regions.
• The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in October 2018 set out the devastating consequences for the planet if it warmed more than 1.5C – with increased extreme weather with heatwaves and floods driving mass migration and global insecurity; the catastrophic social and ecological impacts worsening for
every degree of warming.
• The impact of climate change will not just be felt in far-away lands or coastal areas, the impact on Birmingham residents of increased extreme weather events, including flooding, droughts and heatwave is likely to be profound, with increasing risks to both life and property. Given our global footprint and the diversity of the city the climate crisis will hit at the heart of families and communities within the city.
• Given the planet is currently heading for 3-4C warming, keeping to 1.5C requires a radical shift across energy, land, industrial, urban and other systems to reduce emissions, unprecedented in history for the breadth, depth and speed of change required.
• All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown and in recognising this local government should not wait for national government to change their polices. It is important for the residents of Birmingham, the Region and the UK that cities commit to zero carbon as quickly as possible.
• Birmingham and the West Midlands, as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and a global player in the development of green technology, is ideally placed –- and has a moral responsibility to lead a new Green
Industrial Revolution that delivers clean and inclusive growth.
• Birmingham City Council has already made progress in addressing the issue of Climate Change, having adopted a target to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions by 60% by 2027 from a 1990 baseline and has already cut emissions by 33% (as of 2015).
• Unfortunately, current plans and actions are not enough. Transition in time requires a system change that drives decarbonisation whilst delivering justice and jobs.

A group of young people demonstrating outside the Council House

After debating the motion, the Council resolved:
• To declare a climate emergency.
• To aspire for the City to be net zero carbon by 2030 or as soon after as a just transition permits – making sure we take communities with us, protecting employment and without impoverishing deprived communities.
• To work with the WMCA and seek from the UK Government the powers and resources to help Birmingham deliver the 2030 net zero carbon ambition for a just transition.
• That the Council will lead by example and seek to be net zero carbon by 2030 – again ensuring that this is just – taking communities with us, protecting employment and without impoverishing deprived communities.
• To constitute a Climate Emergency Task Force to support the Council move from declaration to delivery drawing in cross sector, expertise, capacity and capability to capture the investment and economic opportunity arising from a low carbon future.
• To quickly set in place a process of engagement and collaborative action that enables the Task Force to bring forward to Full Council in January 2020 a plan that sets out how the aspiration for the City and the ambition of the Council to be net zero carbon by 2030 can be best achieved.
• As a matter of urgency to review planned Transport, Housing, Waste and Energy Investment plans and policies to ensure they are fit to support a transition to a zero-carbon future with Sustainability and Transport Overview and Scrutiny monitoring progress and to provide an update to Council in November 2019 and annually thereafter.”



The Council motion had watered down some of XR’s demands, such as the target date for becoming Carbon Neutral – 2030, as opposed to 2025 – but this is a closer target than that being promoted by Parliament.  Another request from XR was to debate the issues in a Citizens’ Assembly.  Details of this can be found in XR’s Briefing paper, which was sent to every member of the Council in advance of the Council meeting.  Copies of this paper, which outlines what other local authorities are doing, can be provided on request – or downloaded from the shared drive mentioned below.


The 38 degrees website was used to collate most of the signatures to the petition.  Their summary of the Council response is:

On Tuesday 11th June Birmingham City Council declared a climate emergency!
All 83 councillors who turned up to the meeting (out of possible 101) voted for the motion. Extinction Rebellion were named as part of the debate and the young people involved in the school climate strike were referenced multiple times. Many councillors spoke and covered a range of topics including energy, transport, education, housing, waste, divestment of pension funds and investment and system change. The petition was submitted with over 3000 signatures.
This decision has placed the UK’s second largest city on the climate crisis map of those willing to take action. Thank you so much for your support so far! Now we must ensure that action happens! If you want to stay involved, here are a few of the local groups that will continue to support, monitor and put pressure on the council:
https://www.facebook.com/birminghamfoe/
https://www.facebook.com/extinctionrebellionbirmingham/
https://www.facebook.com/CANWM/
https://www.facebook.com/bhamyouthstrike4climate/
https://www.facebook.com/ecobirmingham/
https://www.facebook.com/FootstepsBCF/

Please do reply to this email if you have any questions! And thank you once again for taking part in this campaign!

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/birmingham-city-council-declare-a-climate-emergency-and-take-action-1



Subsequent to this motion being passed by the Council, information has been received that it is setting up a Task Force, meeting for the first time on October 17th 2019. Various groups have been invited to send representatives onto the Task Force.  Unfortunately, Extinction Rebellion is not one of them, though some XR members will represented on other groups, such as Climate Action West Midlands, Footsteps, Green Coalition, Client Earth.  Friends of the Earth is another organisation not invited onto the Task Force.

See: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/472/birmingham_climate_taskforce_announced

A small group of Birmingham citizens from some of the above organisations has been meeting regularly in workshop format to prepare material to submit to the Task Force.  It includes information/recommendations collated from a whole range of documents, which can be found on a shared drive at:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1JN_bwrzV47StsjBtYYxg_B-oIKqvOUNJ

As this work progresses, further information will be shared on this site.


 


 


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Commons motion passed to declare an environment and climate emergency

Last night Parliament voted for the UK to declare a Climate Emergency.  Whilst this is momentous – and historic – it will have no impact whatsoever unless the government accepts and acts on it.  The debate was started by Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”.

The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks.

Opening the debate, Corbyn urged his fellow MPs to accept their “historic duty” and back Labour’s motion. He used his speech to make a passionate and comprehensive case for “rapid and dramatic action” for social and environmental justice. On current rates of decarbonisation, and following government cuts to renewable energy, the UK will only reach net zero by the end of the century, which is at least 50 years too late.

The Labour leader argued that we are already seeing the effects of climate change, including extreme weather in the UK. He told MPs they should listen to those “who bear the highest cost” and are “least to blame here and around the world for the destruction of our climate”.

Corbyn told the Commons that he was “deeply moved to see the streets outside this parliament filled with colour and noise by children on strike from school chanting ‘our planet, our future’and that “Parliament rarely leads change, it usually drags its feet” but will urge MPs to “not repeat that pattern” and “respond to the younger generation” by saying “we hear you”.

Labour used an opposition motion to push Parliament to act with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which requires global emissions to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ before 2050.

Last year, UK carbon dioxide emissions fell by only 2% – a rate that means that the UK would not reach levels compatible with net zero before 2100, far too late to avoid dangerous climate change.

Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, decried this slow rate of change saying “winning slowly on climate change is the same as losing”.

Jeremy Corbyn has also spoken in a video on this theme:

 

The Commons debate showed cross-party support of the motion, though many of the Conservative back-bench seats were empty during the debate.  In his reply to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech, the Environment minister, Michael Gove, defended his Government’s record on introducing methods to reduce carbon emissions. Some say that his long and passionate speech was delivered, partly as an attack on Corbyn but also in a bid for the leadership of the Conservative party.



Also important in this whole context is the report that was released today by the Committee on Climate Change.  This is outlined on the BBC website:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48122911

It stated that the UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050.  The BBC then goes on to say that a target of 2050 was likely to damage the UK economy.  Yet , Extinction Rebellion and others are calling for a much closer time (2025) to achieve carbon zero.  Indeed, the IPPC report has shown that keeping global warming below 1.5ºC is essential, if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided.

It would appear then that the Committee on Climate Change has been very conservative in its recommendations.



 


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Guardian calls for the nationalisation of the oil companies in order to tackle global warming

oilfields

Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, discusses what measures British politicians can take in order to respond to the XR demands made over the Easter period:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/climate-change-oil-companies-extinction-rebellion

He states that Extinction Rebellion has got the ball rolling but more radical action is needed if changes are to be made.  He believes that the focus must now shift to the fossil fuel companies and the banks and states: “As long as they remain under private ownership on a global scale, humanity’s future will be threatened.”

Apparently, ExxonMobil plans to “pump an astonishing 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than it did in 2017″

According to the United Nation’s IPCC, oil and gas production has to fall by 20% by 2030, and 55% by 2050.  But Owen Jones states that the economic self-interest and political power of the fossil fuel industry is deliberately sabotaging this goal. He provides evidence of vast sums of money being spent in the US 2016 elections, to lobby for subsidies to continue for the fossil fuel industry.

And the banks do not have clean hands either. Since the 2015 Paris climate agreement, 33 global banks – led by big US financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase – have provided $1.9tn in finance to the fossil fuel industry. HSBC is funding the expansion of coal plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam; while Barclays bank has shelled out $85bn of financing for fossil fuels since 2015 alone.

bankimage.JPG

Owen Jones believes that the banks and the fossil fuel companies must be brought under public ownership, if the Paris targets are to be achieved. Otherwise, “they will continue to place short-term profit for elite investors ahead of the future of the planet and continued existence of humanity.”

He ends his article with the words:

 What do we value more: an economic system which privileges profit above all other considerations, or the continued existence of human civilisation as we recognise it? A reckoning is coming.”



 


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Can we achieve zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2025?

One of the demands being made by Extinction Rebellion (XR) is that the government act to reduce the use of fossil fuels, so that carbon emissions fall to zero within six years. Other XR groups across the world are also asking the same thing of their governments. But, is this achievable?

David Cameron signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, on behalf of the UK, but since then the government has approved fracking licences and agreed to extend Heathrow airport.  Both of which will add to the use of fossil fuels, not reduce it to zero.  This is why people are taking to the streets to protest.

Horizontal; Crowd; Kettle; Police; State

XR demonstration in Oxford Circus, asking the Government to “tell the truth” about the severity of the threat facing the world at the moment, as a consequence of global warming

The Observer’s Science Editor, Robin McKie, discussed whether XR’s demand is achievable in last Sunday’s Observer:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/21/long-road-to-zero-emissions-uk

Last year 6.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted into the atmosphere per head of population in the UK. To decarbonise the nation, that figure will have to be reduced to zero. It will mean massive curtailment of travel by car or plane, major changes in food production, especially red meat, and the construction of many more wind and solar plants, to replace fossil fuels as sources of energy.

The government’s climate change committee is shortly to publish a report on how, and when, Britain can achieve this status and play its part in the battle against global warming. It is expected that the committee will opt for a different target as Britain’s  decarbonisation date, 2050 rather than 2025. According to this scenario, developed nations, including Britain, would aim to achieve zero-emissions status by 2050 and then use other technologies to achieve this goal, such as hydrogen plants, carbon dioxide storage vaults and advanced renewable generators.

There has been some progress in reducing Britain’s use of fossil fuels to generate energy. In 2013, 62.5% of UK electricity was generated by oil, coal and gas stations, while renewable provided only 14.5%. In 2018, the figure for oil, coal and gas had been reduced to 44% while renewables were generating 31.7%. And, during the Easter weekend, whilst the XR demonstrations took place, it has been reported that the country was able to rely on only renewables for a short period – this was probably because we were undergoing a heat wave – the hottest Easter on record, so there was not much demand for extra heating.  Also, I suspect that when when calculations are made about the use of renewables, nuclear power generated electricity in included in the figures.  We all know the risks associated with nuclear power and the difficulties in disposing safely of nuclear waste.

We have yet to be given a date when engineers expect the last UK fossil-fuelled power plant to produce its final watts of electricity and to emit its last emissions of carbon dioxide.

The problem is that 90% of the British people use gas boilers to heat their centrally-heated homes, producing hot water and heating at the flick of a switch. Getting people to change from this will be difficult.  One solution would be to price gas out of common use, by putting increasingly heavy carbon taxes on household supplies so people can no longer afford them and are forced to change heating systems.  Would this be popular?

28.4.19

This article in the Observer generated a couple of letters published in the paper the following week.  The first from Dave Lewis, Cornwall was as follows:

“Robin McKie’s piece correctly identifies Extinction Rebellion’s demand for a zero-carbon UK by 2025 as being hugely costly and politically difficult… He provides a detailed examination of what some experts prefer as a more realistic target of 2050, though even this is difficult. The IPCC’s most recent warnings about the dangers of a temperature rise exceeding 1.5ºC abobe pre-industrial levels surely mean that avoiding this must be the key global policy objective.

The articles last two paragraphs show that at current carbon dioxide emission rates (42 bn tonnes per annum) the world will exceed the limit (420 bn tonnes) at which there is a ‘two in three chance of keeping global warming down to around  1.5ºC’ in just 10 years’ time. If the aim is to meet this target, 2050 doesn’t seem in any way ‘more realistic’ as a target for a zero-carbon Britain.  It does seem ‘more realistic’ if the aim is to avoid costly and politically difficult decisions by kicking the can further down the road. Which is how we got where we are.

No wonder people are rebellious. It looks like a bit more rebellion is still required.”

The other letter, from David Watkin, Leicester, drew attention to the spreading interest of US firms in developing space travel and space tourism. He suggests that the arguments put forward in Robin McKie’s article should include an assessment of the potential future contribution of space rockets to CO2 output.

space rocket

launch of space rocket at Kennedy space centre



Another journal reporting on the zero carbon target is the New Scientist (27th April 2019):

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200269-climate-protesters-want-net-zero-carbon-emissions-is-it-possible/

This article has a different take from the one in the Guardian.  It talks about the changing targets for zero emissions, as the 2050 figure was set when 2º of warming was the target, rather than 1.5º, which is the new target, since the IPPC report.  It lists those countries which are trying to make the target, some earlier than 2050: Sweden, France, Norway, Portugal, Costa Rica, Marshall Islands and New Zealand.

It also discusses what “net zero” means. Is it just about carbon dioxide or does it include all greenhouse gases? He also talks about measures introduced to absorb excess carbon dioxide, such as reforestation and carbon capture.

There is also an interesting graph, which compares total carbon emissions between the UK, Sweden and New Zealand.  The UK is currently far higher than the other two countries, so has a lot more work to do to reach net zero.

Further discussion on the 2025 XR target can be found at:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200755-the-science-behind-extinction-rebellions-three-climate-change-demands/



 


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Wake-up Calls on Climate Change

One of the reviewers of my book described it as a Wake Up Call  and this phrase is being used more and more in relation to climate change, especially as people have experienced extremes of weather in the last two years.

Now, the Guardian has published an article about the things that their readers have described as Wake Up Calls:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/21/the-heatwave-was-a-wake-up-call-readers-on-a-year-of-climate-change-anxiety?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTgxMjIx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

They include the following:

  1. The 2018 heatwave.
  2. Wildfires in California.
  3. The IPCC report, saying we have 12 years.
  4. The launch of Extinction Rebellion.
  5. Extreme heatwaves harming the poorest people.
  6. The’Beast from the East’.
  7. ‘The changing political landscape prompted me’

 

wildfires