The Big Picture

June 25th, 2019

I haven’t heard back from BP (yet?!), surprise, surprise;

but I’m somehow heartened in a way that even they have announced that the world is on an unsustainable path – surely recognising a problem is half way to addressing it….?

But why are they still intent on drilling for new oil wells?

Everyone can see this is not the way to end climate change.

Last week the inspiring, innovative and forward-looking theatre man Mark Rylance has resigned from the Royal Shakespeare Company in protest at its BP sponsorship.

Good for him.

I disagree with the Observer’s Vanessa Thorpe who argued that Britain’s cultural institutions should not be expected to be cleaner than the rest of us.

Of course the hope is that we will all start leading ‘cleaner’ lives, but if ‘the arts’ and others do not stick to principles, what hope for the rest of us?!

I think all organisations that are in the public eye should strive to lead by example.

The more attention that is drawn to BP’s appalling record of contributing to climate change the better.

It goes back to what I was saying about ‘we’re all complicit’, but us individuals with a conscience/anxiety about the future need to feel re-assured that people with influence are sorting things out.

Nine days ago, the Greenpeace protest at the Vorlich field in the North Sea came to an end. The Pope had even ‘waded in’, condemning BP’s actions as a ‘brutal injustice’.

I just want to quote Greenpeace’s John Sauven:  

“BP’s oil rig has done a U-turn and we urge chief executive Bob Dudley to do the same. BP must stop drilling for new oil and switch to renewables.

“We must take action to save future generations from a ‘brutal injustice’.

“BP told the Pope on Friday that they want to find the answer to the climate problem. Wherever that answer may lie it’s certainly not in drilling new wells to access 30 million barrels of oil at the bottom of the North Sea.

“This is why BP will face opposition wherever they plan to drill for more oil, from the North Sea to the Arctic and from the mouth of the Amazon to the Gulf of Mexico. We have tried letters, meetings, petitions – none of that worked. Now we’re going to stand in BP’s way to prevent further harm to people at the sharp end of the climate crisis.

“In the long run, this is a confrontation BP can’t win. They are in it for their profits, we’re in it for our planet’s future. BP must start ditching the climate-wrecking side of its business and switch to renewables.”

This is the kind of speech I expected/hoped to hear when the Greenpeace people ‘stormed’ the Mansion House speech by Philip Hammond, also last week.

I didn’t circulate the video of the ‘incident’ that they showed on social media, because their message didn’t have a chance.

All that was visible was shocked & complacent (is that possible at the same time?!) men in suits  – how dare people interrupt their indulgent dinner party, where a group of powerful people who could change the world for the better would rather just ‘hob nob’…?!

And most attention in subsequent days was predictably focussed on the shocking manhandling of one of the female protestors.

Of course it’s good that Theresa May has suspended Mark Field, but what has happened to the Climate Change message….?

Janet Barker didn’t have a chance, simply wanting people to hear what a serious situation we are all in – an emergency, as it said on the women’s sashes….

I’ve written a ‘stern letter’ to Philip Hammond, of course!

Had an acknowledgement at least, saying how good it was of me to take the time to write & to feel rest assured that the contents of my letter have been registered by the Treasury….

Mm, we’ll see!

More people need to hear Greenpeace’s and the Green Party’s messages – loud and clear, straightforward and simple. With a plan of how the world could, and should, change.

Anyway, before I go, I’ve had positive responses from the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).

They drew my attention to Sky News’ recent (current?) New Climate initiative – a week dedicated to the changing climate, looking at what hitting carbon net zero by 2050 will require from us all.

A future blog of mine that I have planned will focus on promoting/suggesting more media coverage (in a viewer friendly way?!) of climate change, so that’ll tie in…

I’ll emphasise of course that 2050 is far too late – the target needs to be 2031 (at the risk of repeating myself!), at least. 

Interestingly, the ESO has announced it will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon by 2026 (a fact that’s only no 5, however, on their website’s list of top five articles – shouldn’t it be a proud no 1?..) – brilliant news, although unfortunately that target is limited to the ‘system’, so the grid/wires, not the actual generation of the electricity.

I hope that Fintan Slye, ESO’s Director, might have some influence in the future to inspire the myriad companies that actually produce/generate….

One aspect of Sky’s broadcasts was about Fairbourne, a village in North Wales, whose residents look set to become the country’s first ‘climate refugees’. Because of rising sea levels, the village is on the scary course of being ‘returned to the waves’ as the Guardian put it when they did a feature in May.

I haven’t been to Fairbourne, but it seems a beautiful place to live, closeness to the sea being so special. Many of us feel that (with fire also, in a slightly different way…) – drawn to a natural force that can be so treacherous too..

So, of course people who live there don’t want to be forced to move (as it looks like they will be during the 2040s if not sooner); and they are discovering they are unable to sell their houses.

It has brought out scepticism about climate change, and also understandable anger as they will not get compensation and help with re-housing – the local council cannot afford it, central government is looking the other way.

Perhaps companies such as BP should be forced to contribute…

Priorities is the bottom line, isn’t it? 

On a personal level, I’m very relieved at the moment to have been able to ditch the oil-powered heating system in our new home.

And eventually we hope to install solar panels again, with a battery to store electricity that isn’t immediately needed.

But the Treasury yesterday put forward legislation to raise VAT on domestic systems from 5% to 20% (what…?).

This was on the same day MPs were debating the government’s net-zero carbon by 2050 target.

And home coal fuel will continue to receive the lower VAT rate.

So coal is not a luxury (& nor are cheap summer flights to Spain etc – so many depressing adverts for them at the moment….); but ways of tackling the climate crisis are.

Priorities… HUH!

Signing off this week as ‘Disgusted in Gloucester’.

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