Lockdown #6

April 21st, 2020

Stark contrasts are staring me in the face this week…

Tomorrow is Earth Day, a day of celebration of our wonderful planet alongside positive plans from optimistic people who are striving to save its future.

Check out earthday.org if you’d like to get involved.

Air pollution is falling to an incredible extent in big cities around the world, due to the lack of cars, factories and construction work during coronavirus lockdown. The air in Delhi, normally the world’s most polluted city, has now been described as ‘positively alpine’! BUT the fresh air cannot be enjoyed by most people, stuck inside, and the transformation is happening alongside widespread chaos and suffering especially among India’s 300 million poor.

So the solutions, though fundamentally rooted in common humanity, are ultimately political (small ‘p’, for people power…?) and about social/climate justice.

Thinking of justice for ‘ordinary people’, I’ve been corresponding with Amazon about their response to the pandemic, in terms of protecting employees as well as delivery drivers. DPD and Hermes have been given a ‘Nope’ (aka Bad) rating in a recent survey.

I don’t want this campaign to be locked into the virus situation, as you can imagine (pun half-intended!), planning to be ‘in it for the long haul’ (till the end of the climate emergency, wouldn’t that be wonderful…?!).

However, I’m increasingly aware that it is all connected.

I was on the verge of promoting a boycott of Amazon – that just wouldn’t be popular or possible, would it? Too many of us (including my family!) are semi-addicted (or, to be more fair, dependent for various reasons) to ordering deliveries.

I’ll turn my attention instead to Virgin – Richard Branson and Virgin (Airlines particularly, train lines too…) definitely deserve to lose our business.

The ‘entrepreneur’ has become so remote from reality – his priority is ‘loving his island home’, I heard one of his ‘people’ say on the radio….?! 

No airline deserves to be bailed out with public money – oh dear, this is getting to be a ‘rant’.. please visit Ali’s petition at Possible. She is, very calmly and reasonably, calling for the government to make airlines protect their workers, pay their taxes (airline fuel is still not taxed, what?…!), and cut their climate-crashing carbon emissions. Please write to your MP about this too – maybe they’ll actually read e-mails and/or sit in a virtual parliament sometime soon….?

On a more manageable ‘at home’ level, perhaps, I’ll mention Terracycle again, my heroes of recycling/upcycling! They’re running a competition – ‘an exciting global contest that enables you to win big prizes and support the causes you care about while remaining in the comfort of your own home’. Before August 27th this year, we’re invited to share what we do or our best advice by posting a message, photo or video on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (#KeepOnRecycling and tag @ TerraCycleUK) – ‘how you collect your TerraCycle waste for recycling efficiently at home!

As an individual ‘collector’ and not a charity or organization I’m not technically part of the ‘TerraCycle Community’ , but I’d still like to contribute (maybe you want to start collecting too… for your university, playgroup, community centre, workplace perhaps?).

I’ll forgo the cash prizes, but still post – a photo of the picturesque system in our shed, organised by my husband…!

Finally, on Thursday, in the world of ‘times gone by’, I would have been having a half-hour private meeting with Bernard Looney of BP. His assistant replied to a personal letter I sent the CEO of that terrible fossil fuel company, about my campaign and blog.

Of course I’ve been thinking about this loads – I’d so love to influence him.

My last ‘conversation’ with the very friendly assistant (comparing Easters with our children/grandchildren) included the following extract from an article by Guardian energy writers about the current state of the oil industry: 

“The plunging demand for oil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic combined with a savage price war has left the fossil fuel industry broken and in survival mode, according to analysts. It faces the gravest challenge in its 100-year history, they say, one that will permanently alter the industry. With some calling the scene a “hellscape”, the least lurid description is “unprecedented”.

“A key question is whether this will permanently alter the course of the climate crisis. Many experts think it might well do so, pulling forward the date at which demand for oil and gas peaks, never to recover, and allowing the atmosphere to gradually heal.

“The boldest say peak fossil fuel demand may have been dragged into the here and now, and that 2019 will go down in history as the peak year for carbon emissions. But some take an opposing view: the fossil fuel industry will bounce back as it always has, and bargain basement oil prices will slow the much-needed transition to green energy.”

I’m letting him/them know, in no uncertain terms (?!) that I hope this all will signal the end of our fossil fuelled economy – who am I to expect anything from BP….?

But I’m not going to lose anything by trying, am I?

I’ve also written to Ben van Buerden at Shell today, baiting him to win a race with Bernard Looney…?!…towards zero-carbon emissions (not possible with ANY oil of course).

Bernard Looney was quoted recently as saying, paraphrased, we always bounce back from problems, we’ve done it before… I plan to ask him how, by damaging the planet further….? Or by winning investors over to a ‘whole new world’ of green business – highly unlikely of course, but his lovely assistant assures me Mr Looney’s a ‘great human being’. I live in hope!

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