October 10th, 2019
I’ll start, this week, with some simple facts about water….
Demand for water could outstrip supply by 2035 in parts of northern England.
London’s consumption apparently already outstrips supply in dry years, and the water companies that serve the capital are located in areas classified as seriously water stressed.
Now a report, for the think-tank IPPR North, warns that, despite its usual abundance of water, the north could also become water stressed.
Of course there’s an element of water companies not managing leakages successfully, but households and businesses also need to ‘do their bit’ to reduce water use.
We all know about how basic water is for human survival. But this is usually at such a distance from our own experience – Water Aid is for poor people in hot countries, isn’t it? At the community shop where I volunteer (in a very limited capacity…), the water was off for an hour the other day – this just meant cyclists had to provide water from their water bottles for our kettles, in order to get the coffee they wanted; and it was back on in time for me to do the washing up. We really don’t know how lucky we are.
And now the UK should be starting to face up to water shortages of our own (someone is bound to complain when it does happen… not ‘making the link’….).
Flood water is becoming more common, too – a dramatic newspaper photo of a car underwater in Birmingham, with a brave cyclist splashing past, was headlined ‘Weather turns autumnal’. No mention of climate change again, the remnants of Hurricane Lorenzo….
Finally on water, buying North Sea cod is no longer eco-friendly – it has lost its sustainability label from the Marine Stewardship Council.
Now, public transport – I’ve had a long email from the CEO office at Stagecoach (bus and coach operator). Steven Stewart is basically despairing about road congestion caused by too many cars on our roads, undermining the sustainability of bus services. This is of course not helped by huge cuts to public sector budgets (3,000 bus routes slashed in less than a decade), with central government actively encouraging car use by pursuing real terms cuts in fuel duty for nine years in a row. I’m trying to do my bit, using the twice a week rural bus service here!
What really needs to happen is petrol rationing, I think….
And vehicle fuel tax increases, with an extra charge on diesel, according to the think
-tank Bright Blue. A report calls for VAT on electric cars to be abolished (why was it charged in the first place – is it a luxury to drive a cleaner car?!).
And, this is interesting (I’ve just tried to appeal to people’s better natures, for ages…) – citizens should be able to report idling vehicles (and receive a share of fines levied!).
The report also suggests cutting the speed limit in all urban areas from 30mph to 20mph and allowing local authorities to profit from pollution-charging schemes to fund clean-air projects.
Most urban areas in the UK have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, mainly from vehicles. The CEO of Bright Blue said: “Evidence of the scale and impact of air pollution is growing and alarming … despite the rhetoric from the government, not enough is being done to tackle NO2.” Another subject to raise with my MP – he and I have got to the stage of first-name terms, now that I write to him so often.
And now the companies behind the dreaded petrol (I so wish I could give it up…- one day…at least I have some car-free days now, a start) –
BP is being shunned, at last, by the RSC – the theatre company has ended its sponsorship deal with them; and the National Theatre is ending its partnership with Shell next year.
Excellent news – cultural institutions leading the way, alongside our conscientious young people. ‘A Shell spokesman’ was quoted in Nazia Parveen’s report about the National as saying: “As we move to a lower-carbon future we are committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs – because we all have a role to play”…. What?…! Unbelievable. Just stop drilling, Shell! Simple as that. I’ll have to try to find out the spokesman’s name, I think….!
BP’s Bob Dudley is leaving after a decade as CEO. The man who’s following him sounds even more entrenched in ‘dirty energy’ : Bernard Looney, a former drilling engineer and head of its exploration and production business, ‘hardly a break from BP’s oil-hungry past’ the Guardian says (in its business pages). The company’s board has appointed him in the full knowledge of his lack of green credentials – his enthusiasm for US shale drilling is more apparent than any interest in wind farms, solar power and alternative bioenergy. Depressing – but let’s hope he’s given a very bumpy ride from the world outside the ‘oil bubble’, as soon as possible…
Another gloomy note to end on, I’m afraid – please boycott all Procter & Gamble products.
Despite their website etc declaring their sustainability pledges etc, they continue to use palm oil using slave labour; and also their Charmin toilet paper uses absolutely no recycled paper: just 100% virgin forest fibre from Canada’s Boreal Forest, one of the earth’s greatest defences against climate change, just to be flushed down the toilet. So disgusting, literally…. The trees are being destroyed, the livelihoods of hundreds of indigenous communities hurt, and caribou, billions of songbirds and other wildlife threatened.
To close, I’ll just tell you I have indeed written to Archbishop Justin Welby today; and Ben Elton!
Also, have been having an email conversation with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s office – such unnecessary force at Extinction Rebellion’s London action… My musician son ran a workshop for children there – lots of under fives singing, and enthusiastically playing percussion, about what they love in the world.
Let’s save it for them, and honour the memory of all the people who have died around the world simply protecting the environment for all of us.
PS I have a Twitter account now – @grandmaglobal Please follow, to sign petitions & join campaigns