Holding on #5

October 21st, 2020

I’ll open today with a bit of positive thinking!

Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey tells Rachel Humphreys (watch the video!) how civil society can force governments and business to change – giving us campaigners optimism for the future!

She said: “Faced with multiplying and interlinked environmental crises in the 2020s – the climate emergency, the sixth extinction stalking the natural world, the plastic scourge in our oceans – it is easy to feel overwhelmed. But it’s also easy to forget that environmentalism is arguably the most successful citizens’ mass movement there has been.”

Campaigner Janet Alty started a local campaign to ban lead in petrol, which became part of a much bigger movement, CLEAR, the Campaign for Lead-Free Air. The campaign took years (and we don’t have years with the climate crisis, sadly – start now, everyone, buying less petrol please!), but eventually leaded fuel was finally removed from the last petrol pumps in 1999.

Campaigns against acid rain and ozone-depleting chemicals (CFCs) were also successful relatively recently. Public pressure on the worst-offending countries- chiefly the US and the UK, which were responsible for acid rain falling largely on neighbouring countries and regions, such as Canada and Scandinavia – was key to protecting forests and lakes.

And the hole in the ozone layer, once a threat to most living things, in now on the path to recovery – a result of the world moving quickly, with governments getting together under the aegis of the UN, agreeing in 1987 to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals globally.

Of course we still need to campaign – urgently and forcefully…..We just mustn’t feel that there is no point….

Some practical information might help some people – Scarborough (near where we used to live) Borough Council, with Yorkshire County Council and Ryedale District, is offering residents a free renewable heating scheme; and the Forest of Dean District Council (where we live now) offers Green Homes Grants, towards the cost of installing energy efficient and low-carbon heating improvements to homes. Other UK councils hopefully have various schemes.

If talking to your local council, you might ask them who they invest with….Council pension funds across the UK have more than £16 billion invested in polluting fossil fuel companies. A growing number of local campaigns are proving it’s possible to persuade councils to divest. Check out Friends of the Earth’s guide.

Former archbishop Rowan Williams has called on UK universities to follow the example of Cambridge and end their multimillion-pound investments in fossil fuels. He said all universities had a duty to their students to create a ‘safer world’ and investing in fossil fuel corporations was incompatible with this.

And former Bank of England governor Mark Carney (a good man, generally!) has said banks should link executive pay to climate risk management, as part of efforts to align the finance industry with Paris climate goals. Speaking at the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative roundtable, he said lenders should – at the very least – be transparent over whether or not pay is being tied to climate targets.

NatWest Group confirmed that decisions on pay for its top executives – including chief executive Alison Rose – do take climate targets into consideration. The bank has pledged to fully phase out coal financing by 2030 and is aiming to ‘at least halve’ the climate impact of its lending activity by the end of the decade.

There are still a lot of dirty investments in banking, of course; and the only bank that is truly ethical and sustainable in this country is Triodos – its mission is ‘to help create a society that protects and promotes quality of life and human dignity for all. Since 1980, our sustainable financial products have enabled individuals and organisations to use their money in ways that benefit people and the environment.’

We still haven’t moved to them, I have to admit, but I really intend to….

And neither have I joined the Green Party – as they have written recently, ‘only a tiny number of people ever join a political party, but there are a huge number who identify as Green and want to see policy and systems changes that will positively impact on the climate and ecological crisis.’

So I have become a ‘Green Friend’, to try to help them ensure Better is Possible – their party political broadcasts on television recently spoke such sense. (A contrast with the ‘Time is Running Out’ statements – Time is Running Out, sadly, to address the climate crisis; the No-deal Brexit ship seems to have sailed….)

See what you think at actionnetwork.org

There are two videos worth watching on BBC News – teenagers living in remote Arctic communities, worried about the effects of climate change, are calling for help; and young activists from the UK, including Bird-girl from Bristol whom I ‘featured’ recently, have made an urgent plea for global leaders to prevent climate action being sidelined by Covid.

Finally, some news about wolverines – the Centre for Biological Diversity is going to court, as these animals on the edge of extinction (through fur-trappers and predator-killing programmes) have been denied federal Endangered Species Act protection.

This is personally poignant for me – my musician son (Gecko) alludes to this creature in his song ‘Volcano’. He also wrote very movingly about ‘The End of the World’, prescient about the demise of animals such as koalas and polar bears. I’ll end on a happy note – he has a new album out on Friday (October 23rd)! It’s called Climbing Frame and is, of course, brilliant!

Please continue to sign petitions that I post on Facebook, and at my Twitter account – #grandmaglobal

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