August 4th, 2020
Hello! Today I’m going to attempt to cover some ‘stories’ in a local, national and international order.
So, starting with a petition that concerns our local river, the Wye. Hopefully, some people reading this will have enjoyed holidays on and near it – a beautiful stretch of water flowing from the Welsh mountains through Powys, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and eventually meeting the Severn Estuary into the Bristol Channel, inspiring poets, naturalists and holiday-makers ‘messing about in boats’….
Nowhere is free from human pollution. 116 intensive poultry units in Powys each raise more than 40,000 birds. There are now an estimated 64 times more chickens than people in that Welsh county… There is a legal responsibility to protect the river from the damage caused by effluent from the ‘farms’ to the river and water courses.
Kate Bull has started a petition to Powys County Council, calling for an immediate moratorium on planning permissions for new or extended poultry units in the county. Please sign it – at change.org
For a good clear ‘chat’ (surprisingly hopeful), visit Paloma Faith’s Instagram feed/page (?…) – last month she asked Rosie Rogers from Greenpeace UK about the climate emergency. Many people still seem to be unaware of how little time we have to ‘sort it’ – Paloma Faith’s fans/followers probably are a representative group of one type of young people….?
The Met Office (meteorological, not Metropolitan police…!) has produced its annual climate report.
It states that the climate crisis is exerting an increasing impact on the UK – demonstrated by more extreme heat, less frost and snow, and trees coming into leaf earlier.
Maybe the regular weather forecasts on tv and radio will start mentioning this…? The report says: “Weather conditions are the result of the warming trend driven by global heating as well as natural variability.” Prof Dave Reay, at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Seeing temperature records go down like sweaty skittles is a stark reminder that climate change is still tightening its grip on all our futures. No corner of the UK is immune to the impacts of climate change.” Quite an image! Memorable, at least….
The National Trust has announced a re-organisation plan this week – over the next two months it will be making 1,200 staff redundant (including my son-in-law probably): a blow for those people of course, but the NT is determined to remain committed to the ‘battle against climate change, becoming carbon net zero by 2030, planting millions of trees and creating green corridors for people and nature’.
Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy has produced its first report. The aim of the NFS is to ensure a food system that is healthy, affordable, sustainable, resilient and productive.
This first part calls for ‘a gold standard level of scrutiny’ to ensure new trade deals do not undermine the environment.
Verification schemes should address concerns such as imports of beef reared on land recently cleared of rainforest. (I hope Burger King and McDonalds are listening too…. ) And the government should press on with plans to pay English farmers to improve the countryside, such as by capturing carbon or increasing biodiversity.
“Be bolder. Go faster,” the report said. This part ties in with Brexit deals, of course, and now it also has relevance with the heightened obesity awareness around coronavirus.
How fast action will be taken remains to be seen… We have to wait for the second part of the report, due to be published next year, too – this promises to ‘examine issues in more depth such as climate change, biodiversity, pollution and zoonotic disease.’ All such important stuff – it is very heartening to know it’s being addressed. We need to keep the pressure up on the government to follow the report’s advice.
Hedgehogs have been added to the British mammals section of the Red List of species at risk of extinction (run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Last week saw International Tiger Day (wild Sumatran tigers are threatened with extinction, but Indochinese tigers, in a conservation programme in Thailand, seem to be thriving); and whales are celebrating the reduced presence of humanity in oceans – there is a beautiful Youtube video of ‘happy humpback whales frolicking in quiet shipping lanes’.
The UK government has agreed to use £900m of taxpayers’ money for a gas pipeline in Mozambique. Now Boris Johnson is reported to be furious about the potential damage to the UK’s reputation on climate and has ordered a review of the use of government finances to oil and gas projects abroad. Mm, I hope he actually cares about the climate now, not just ‘our reputation’…but that would be a start! There is a powerful video about this subject made by Friends of the Earth – worth watching…
Now, two stories about Nestle, the ‘world’s largest food and beverage company’ – it owns so many brands (you have to read the small print to check when shopping…).
It has just sold its bottled water operations in Canada (and possibly might drop its water brands in the US and China as well), ‘because it’s not worth doing business there’.
This seems good news – are people buying fewer plastic bottles? I wonder about the attitude of the Canadian company that has bought from Nestle – Ice River Springs. I’ve written to their CEO.
I’ve also written to Nestle’s CEO – Mark Schneider needs to turn his attention now to the scourge that is deforestation. Nestle, Unilever, Procter & Gamble are still sourcing palm oil from producers that destroy rainforests.
I’ll just add a bit of good international news here (well, a small step anyway..) –
A federal court in the USA has ruled that the Trump administration broke the law when it undid the Methane Waste Prevention Rule. Lissa Lynch, an attorney for NRDC, said: “The Waste Prevention Rule is a common sense protection that holds the oil and gas industry accountable for uncontrolled leaking of methane – pollution that harms public health and fuels climate change.”
The French government has this week laid out a batch of new measures to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.
These are the result of months of discussions with a Citizen’s Convention on Climate. One of the new measures is a nationwide ban, from 2021, on heating terraces for France’s bars and restaurants. This is controversial as the restaurant sector has been hit especially hard by coronavirus. But I hope people will see the ‘bigger picture’ – as France’s new Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said: “We are at risk and, if we don’t do anything, we’ll have an ecological crisis after this health crisis”.
Another measure is ‘Housing decency’ – from January 2023, any tenant in a house consuming more than 500 kilowatt of energy per square meter per year can ask the landlord to renovate the building. From January 2022, anyone building a new home will have to choose sustainable means of heating – coal and oil boilers will be banned.
Heating of buildings currently represents 20% of France’s greenhouse gases.
Well, I’m waiting to hear the outcomes of those discussions with a citizens group in this country that I mentioned a while ago; and when/if our government will act on the recommendations.