Emerging #7

August 13th, 2020

Today I’ve decided to focus on some things that do seem to be changing for the better.

A group of moderate Conservative MPs has joined green groups in calling for the UK government’s ban on new fossil fuel vehicles to be brought forward by five years to 2030, as part of a plan to ignite a green economic recovery.

Jerome Mayhew MP, lead author of the report, said: “Offshore wind, electric vehicles, carbon capture and other clean technologies have the potential to create millions of jobs, attract private investment and grow UK exports…

“Economic growth and innovation go hand in hand, and by investing in green skills, jobs, and technologies we can support an accelerated recovery of our economy and our environment.”

I got a reply from Highways England and have written back, mentioning the importance of supporting this acceleration (seems a particularly good word here…).

The ‘One Nation’ Tories are calling for electric vehicle charging points as standard in new homes, and greater investment in electric vehicle supply chains.

And Boris Johnson is ready to put in place new rules barring the UK government’s chief foreign lender from offering financial support to foreign fossil fuel projects.

The new policy will rule out future loans and financial guarantees for polluting projects overseas through the UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance. This comes just weeks after it agreed to a £1bn financial package to support work on a gas project in Mozambique – I referred to the prime minister’s disquiet about that, in a recent blog post….

Under the new rules no support may be offered to fossil fuel extraction or oil refining projects from 2021.

The world’s offshore windfarm capacity could grow eightfold by the end of the decade powered by a clean energy surge led by China, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. By 2030 China is expected to host more than a fifth of the world’s offshore wind turbines, equating to 52GigaWatts (the UK tally is expected to climb to 40.3GigaWatts, not that far behind China, it seems…?)

Ben Backwell, the CEO at GWEC, said offshore wind was “truly going global” as governments around the world “recognise the role that the technology can play in kickstarting post-Covid economic recovery”.

The report found that the offshore wind industry could create 900,000 jobs globally over the next decade, or even more if policymakers use post-pandemic economic stimulus packages to accelerate the sector’s growth.

Hopeful stuff, on a broad political scale…

Now here’s a smaller story of one man’s hope ‘against the odds’ – with no tourists due to coronavirus, a tour guide in Cambodia is teaching English in exchange for plastic waste…

The images of plastic waste littering the Cambodian fields (‘your Western rubbish’ as they named it in a Malaysian town, Emerging#4) are very depressing; but this man and his pupils are so beautifully determined and positive. He calls his classes ‘Rubbish School’ – check out the BBC News App video.

Deforestation continues to be a very worrying global problem.

Yesterday was World Elephant Day – the Rainforest Action Network is celebrating Sumatran elephants: palm oil plantations have destroyed more and more of their migration trails, leading these endangered elephants to the edge of extinction (there are now fewer than 1,700 left in the wild). Mars and Nestle continue to be involved in the ‘conflict palm oil’ trade (at a distance, through complicated supply chains, so out of sight, out of mind…), producing sweets, biscuits, snacks etc (Kit Kat, Skittles, Oreos..) that are tainted with environmental destruction and human rights abuses. 

Please sign petitions from the RAN and Sum of Us to continue to put pressure on these huge corporations. 

There is currently a new Greenpeace campaign calling on Tesco to cut links to JBS, the world’s biggest meat company, over its links (alleged, though generally accepted/known) to farms involved in Amazon deforestation. I wrote to JBS in the early days of my blog – factory farms, their mainstay, are horrendous anyway… I got a courteous first letter, assuring me that they follow all the rules against deforestation. When I challenged them a bit further, they ignored me…JBS has been linked to farms involved in Amazon deforestation five times in just over a year. Investor Nordea Asset Management has dropped the company from its portfolio.

Two meat suppliers owned by JBS, Moy Park and Tulip, continue to supply Tesco, Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. 

But Tesco are at least now saying the UK government should introduce due diligence across supply chains to monitor for deforestation. Germany is also weighing up a due diligence law on supply chains, reportedly supported by Angela Merkel. And more than half of Britons would consider rejecting meat products linked to deforestation, a YouGov poll for Greenpeace has found. (I’d hope it would be more people than that, but you can’t have everything….!)

A further piece of bad deforestation news is that IKEA may also be implicated – a report by Earthsight has found that some of the store’s furniture may be made with wood sourced from illegal logging in Ukraine. I’ve written to Jesper Brodin, IKEA’s CEO, of course (well, Mercedes Rodriguez-Arias, his assistant…) – they are taking the allegations seriously.

I so want to believe that IKEA is a force for good in the world….

Which brings me to the book I’m reading, recommended by my son Will – Humankind, by Rutger Bregman. A very heartening book about human nature – kindness, in fact…He advocates/believes in ‘survival of the friendliest’….

That chimes with my mission in contacting these CEOs, politicians, ‘big shots’ – they are all humans, hopefully open to questions/engagement/appeals on a human level…..

I’ll keep trying anyway! And please keep signing those petitions, many of which appear on Facebook and my Twitter #grandmaglobal account.

Watch out for more news about the September action by Extinction Rebellion UK too – in London, Cardiff and Manchester. I’ll be there!

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