Lockdown #9

May 11th, 2020

I hope you’ve been happy to sign the ‘Save People not Planes’ petition I’ve sent round.

I was alerted to it by Stay Grounded, a global network of more than 150 member organisations, among them local airport opposition and climate justice groups. Individual activists (like me!), academics, trade unionists and interested people are also invited to contribute to the network.

As they say: “In order to build political pressure, we need to be many”. Please consider joining …

Stay Grounded’s first newsletter says:

‘While it has been clear to the climate movement and civil society that ‘green growth’ of aviation is and will be an illusion, clear steps leading to effectively reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of aviation have been missing so far.’

In July 2019 a conference, ‘Degrowth of Aviation’, was held in Barcelona – its report, also available to read in the newsletter, aims to spark more campaigns and policies to tackle aviation’s climate impact in a just way.

All these climate movements are so positive in their approach and outlook – despite depressing news: ‘some horrendous deals worth billions have already been decided’, as airlines around the world continue to negotiate with governments for state aid at the expense of taxpayers and the climate…

Possible’s lawyers have written to the UK government, warning that bailouts for airlines without climate conditions would be open to legal challenge. This is because our government’s legally-binding goal of reaching net-zero carbon by 2050 won’t be able to be reached if airlines return to business-as-usual (let alone follow their plans to expand).

The lawyers’ letter was covered by nearly 150 papers across the UK.

Never give up!

Just to remind everyone why we mustn’t get ‘back to normal’… ‘Normal’ is a crisis in itself – millions of acres are burning in Siberia, thousands have been displaced as floods hammer Kenya and Somalia. Canadian workers and their families are recovering from floods from fast winter thaw, in a key tar sands development area.

And deforestation in the Amazon is happening at a faster rate than ever before… More and more pressure needs to be put on isolating Brazil’s terrible President Bolsonaro.

A couple of good things, however – in Turkey, a coal plant was cancelled after two years of fighting by local people; and three major Japanese banks have announced changes in policies, withdrawing support from coal projects.

Still with the bank theme, former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney (who would have thought I’d have a banker as a hero…?!) has added his voice to calls for industrialised nations to invest in a greener economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

He shared his comments in an online discussion about climate change with the former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull (Scott Morrison, please note!).

Both called on nations to accelerate a transition to cleaner energy.

The event was organised by the Policy Exchange think tank.

Mr Carney said the pandemic was “a terrible situation, but there was also a big opportunity” at the end of it.

He added: “We have a situation with climate change which will involve every country in the world and from which we can’t self-isolate” – perfect choice of words!

Finally, a study by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, has concluded that environmental stimulus packages would help repair the post-Covid-19 world economy better than traditional government spending and confront climate breakdown at the same time.

The study is co-authored by Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz – I quoted him a while ago, saying we need to have wartime measures like rationing to combat climate change… seems appropriate at this time of ‘buckling down’, as well as during VE anniversary week….

Green projects, many of which are ‘shovel ready’, will create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns per pound and lead to long-term savings.

“Tackling climate change has the answer to our economic problems,” said the lead author of the study, Cameron Hepburn.

At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue last week, a warning was given that stimulating new jobs in heavily carbon emitting sectors was shortsighted – the jobs of the past are insecure jobs.

A bright note to end on ….?!

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