Lockdown 3 #9

June 4th, 2021

Last week there were some good ‘wins’ for the campaign against Big Oil’s part in the climate crisis.

Over the course of less than 24 hours, courtrooms and boardrooms turned on the executives at Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron. Shell was ordered by a court in The Hague to go further to reduce its climate emissions, while shareholder rebellions in the US imposed emissions targets at Chevron and a boardroom overhaul at Exxon.

Hopefully, this is a turning point in the financial and legal consequences awaiting oil companies that do not act fast to take accountability for their role in preventing a climate catastrophe.

Eli Kasargod-Staub, the executive director of Majority Action, a shareholder group, said: “For the first time in history, responsible shareholders have breached the walls protecting recalcitrant boards of directors.”

It’s not all about people/shareholders ‘seeing the light’, though – the group pushing Exxon to take action, Engine No 1, is (sadly…) keen to say its motivation is not about saving the Earth from climate disaster but about fossil fuels investment no longer making financial sense. 

Of course, the voice of money is louder than the voice of conscience!

We just have to take whatever crumbs of comfort we can….

The Green Party’s doing that too!

After the May elections, Greens gained 99 new councillors, gaining representation on 17 new councils for the first time, with the highest ever nationwide vote in the Welsh election. 

On June 13th, voters in Switzerland will decide whether to make their country the first in the world to ban ALL toxic pesticides. 

If they do it, bees especially (fundamental to the health of our planet) will be able to thrive. The campaign group Sum of Us believes a positive vote could start a pesticide-free revolution that could spread, country by country. The group, as with all struggling people-based campaign groups, needs funds!

Now, I want to tell you some lovely things about bees!

There are more than 250 wild bee species in the UK (at least 35 of these are endangered, including a quarter of our bumblebee species, due to habitat loss and widespread pesticide use).

Many of these bees are small and brown (a sweet fact, somehow!), making them difficult to distinguish from each other; some are so tiny they are hardly visible to the naked eye, while others are restricted to rare coastal habitats.

The hairy-footed flower bee is one of the easiest to spot – large and round with a velvety black body, she has a distinctive hovering movement and flies rather comically with her long, straw-lie tongue outstretched in preparation for reaching nectar in bell-shaped flowers.

The wool carder bee teases out the fibres from the soft leaves on the lamb’s ear plant. She rolls them into balls nearly as big as herself, to plug her nest.

Mining bees make burrows underground to lay their eggs in, leaf-butter bees plug their nests with circular pieces of leaves (often cut from a rose bush, leaving it looking as if attacked by a hole-punch…). Carpenter bees fashion their nests from wood.

My final lovely fact – few of the wild bee species sting.

I’ve learnt all this from a Guardian article by Alison Benjamin – she co-wrote ‘The Good Bee: a Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them’.

I just want to add that it would be brilliant if we could avoid killing wasps this summer season – they do sting, of course, and I’ve been very guilty of killing them in the past (when we ran a coffee shop, especially…). But they all provide important ecological services – pollination, predation, and parasitism. Each summer, social wasps in the UK capture an estimated 14 million kilograms of insect prey, such as caterpillars and greenfly.

Now, the opposite end of the scale of human attitudes to living creatures – the ‘Shooting Times’.

A headline appeared in that newspaper earlier this year: ‘Shooting for a perfect ten’.

It headed an article about a contributor’s day’s shooting when he went out to shoot 10 different species of wildlife in a day, ‘just to see if it could be done’. He’d never done that before. A photograph with the article shows him proudly standing with his ‘kill’ – Red Fox, Rabbit, Carrion Crow, Red-legged Partridge, Woodcock, Mallard, Teal, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon and Jay. A nice day out…I felt sick for a day after I’d seen this – the human gloating, as much as the deaths…

Chris Packham of Wild Justice (and Countryfile!) is questioning whether the General Licence conditions were met when the shooter killed three of the species. All wild birds are protected by law, but licences provide cover for the casual killing of protected wildlife simply for ‘fun’.

Chris Packham is also campaigning for chicken welfare. Many of the chickens sold in supermarkets are still fed on soya sourced through deforestation; and they are often housed in overcrowded, cruel conditions. Of course it would be great if people stopped eating chicken all together, but that’s not going to happen – so we need to spread the word about the negative associations. 

Some supermarkets have signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment, but Morrisons are refusing to put animal welfare before profits. So, on Thursday June 10th, to coincide with its AGM,  Mr Packham’s campaign is holding a ‘Facebook event’. If you’re on Facebook, you can join in, an opportunity for anyone with a stake in Morrisons (customers and shareholders) to ask decision-makers important questions.

Finally, this time (nearly a month since my last post – I’ve been having 2nd anniversary anxieties…), I’d like to point you towards a clip from the television programme ‘Years and Years’.

Anne Reid’s character brilliantly (with dark humour, cleverly) points out that we are all responsible for the state of the world. Stick with it, please! She’s not directly referring to the climate crisis, but the fundamental principle rings true and can be applied to so many human situations.

Every choice we make affects the future…..we need to all ‘step up’….!

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