Lockdown #11

May 26, 2020

  • At 8am on May 18th, more than 2000 pairs of children’s shoes were placed in London’s Trafalgar Square with people holding a banner saying ‘Covid today > Climate tomorrow > Act Now’
  • Extinction Rebellion are calling on the government to act on the climate crisis during the coronavirus recovery so children and young people aren’t left to suffer a deeper crisis
  • Shoes were donated by local neighbours, parents and teachers across London who are scared for their children’s future, with Extinction Rebellion pledging to give them to Shoe Aid following the action
  • The protest comes as UK lockdown begins to ease and the government begins bailing out carbon intensive industries, writing off chances of keeping within Paris Climate Agreement promises
  • A stark reminder to us all – this is about our children and grandchildren, and time is really running out….
  • Talking of stark, I’ve written to ‘my friend’ Chris Stark at the Committee on Climate Change, asking him – has the Climate Assembly UK I reported on last week had links with Extinction Rebellion? One of their/our demands is for a people’s assembly…..It’s so important we all work together – for the common good.

Climate change can still be tackled – but only if people are willing to embrace major shifts in the way we live, a report says, out soon in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

I think I’ve heard that before; but of course it’s worth repeating, and also hopeful. We do need to get on with it, though!

What is new about this report is its statement:

‘The response to the Covid-19 crisis has shown that the public is willing to accept radical change if they consider it necessary.’

And the report adds that government priorities must be re-ordered.

Protecting the planet must become the first duty of all decision-makers, the researchers argue.

The authors, led by Dr Diana Ivanova from Leeds University, urge the public to contribute by adopting the carbon-cutting measures in the report, which is based on an analysis of 7,000 other studies.

Top of their list is living car-free, or, next best, using a battery electric car. Taking one less long-haul flight a year is next – better to stop flying all together of course, but this option is good for families separated across the world (thinking of several friends of mine…).

Switching to renewable energy suppliers is fourth; and insulating your home is sixth, with installing air-source heat pumps eighth. Those last two are too expensive for many people of course, which is why continued pressure needs to be put on government to provide serious help. Fifth is using public transport – to be restored/given a new lease of life, after the fear of being close to people caused by this pandemic…?!….

Finally (well, in seventh place in this list, actually) is switching to a vegan diet. I have doubts that many ‘regular’ people are willing to  do this; but eating no/less meat would be a start, as well as cutting down on dairy produce. So much land in the world is wasted, feeding animals to feed us….

Now, a couple of pieces of good news: 

Beer and soft drinks could soon be sipped from “all-plant” bottles under new plans to turn sustainably grown crops into plastic in partnership with major beverage makers. A biochemicals company in the Netherlands hopes to kickstart investment in a pioneering project to make plastics from plant sugars rather than fossil fuels.

Carlsberg and Coca Cola are backing the project.

Come to think of it, possibly this first piece of news is slightly less than completely good….do we want the land reclaimed from animal farming to be instead used for ‘growing’ plastic….?! Can’t we simply learn to do without plastic bottles?

The second piece of news is definitely good (& concerns Coca Cola’s rival/competitor) – after more than 5 years of campaigning, PepsiCo has changed its palm oil sourcing policy, and agreed to use its influence with other companies to end rainforest destruction and human rights abuses. PepsiCo is the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, producing so many snacks (including Doritos…label reading is so important!). So we/Sum of Us (with our petitioning & campaigning) has managed to persuade a huge company to ditch its destructive ways.

Deforestation is a huge problem, for the planet and for orang-utans….

(sorry, I couldn’t get rid of the bullet points from that first XR extract…etc..)

Lockdown #10, part 2

May 18th, 2020

In the first national elections in the time of Covid-19, South Korea’s Democratic Party won a landslide victory – after putting forward a bold Green New Deal plan in their manifesto. In this win for people and the planet, South Korea became the first country in East Asia to announce such a comprehensive climate policy. For one of the world’s largest coal investors and with a huge manufacturing industry, this is a major shift.

In this country, Britain’s biggest green energy companies are on track to deliver multibillion-pound wind farm investments across the north-east of England and Scotland to help power a cleaner economic recovery. The Port of Tyne will be hosting the operations base for the world’s largest offshore wind development, which will create 200 permanent jobs and support a local supply chain industry based on clean energy.

Alok Sharma said projects like the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm will be “a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching our target of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Great words, but 2050 is still too late….

I had a reply from Grant Shapps – well, the Department for Transport, specifically the Office for Low Emission Vehicles. I was concerned that his plans to increase and improve public transport will now be ditched because of the pandemic – people feel safer in their cars (and of course government advice for the moment is to avoid public transport).

I was assured that ‘OLEV are still working to support the electric vehicle market’- supporting the transition, giving grants, funding charge points etc….Figures of billions of pounds are quoted, though only one and two billions….! Nothing, compared to bailouts for airlines, I suspect… It will be good when/if we actually see more electric vehicles on the roads (I’m still loving the idea that car transport is drastically reduced, at the moment!). And of course I hope that after the current consultation, our government will definitely bring forward the end of the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans from 2040 to 2035 (‘or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible’, to quote OLEV again). But then of course there are all the old vehicles we still drive and pollute with.. Coronavirus has been detected on particles of air pollution. Sorry, I don’t seem to be able to be positive for long…!

Finally, this week, the Climate Assembly UK has held its final meeting online.

The first meeting took place in January, and I was very sceptical about what difference it could make, imagining the usual conference tea, coffee and meal breaks…

The 110 people attending were selected by computer to be representative of society from a pool of 1,500, who asked to be considered after invitations were sent out to 30,000 households chosen at random.

A crucial question discussed at this final weekend was whether the UK deadline/target of 2050 for meeting net-zero should be brought forward. Yes, of course!

It’s great to know that trainee teachers have been mixing with legal employees and other ‘normal people’ (ie not just us environmental activists…?!), discussing a better, cleaner future.

One of the participants said: “I think the change will happen. It’s the speed at which it happens which is the key. But as I see those changes being made, I’ll be able to smile and look at them and say ‘Well, I did that.’”

So, the personal and the global there together – a good note to end on….for now!

Lockdown #10

May 18th, 2020

This is going to be a more personal ‘episode’ (I think?!)

Lockdown is definitely beginning to ‘get to me’….

Everything seems more heightened, the negative stuff particularly unfortunately.

My personal living circumstances couldn’t be more idyllic and just ‘up my street’ – a person who’s not exactly sociable – ‘locked in’ with my adorable, precious grandchild (plus his parents!) in beautiful Gloucestershire countryside.

I’m proud that I haven’t been in a car since March; but my husband is ‘out there’ once a week, shopping for us all – the plastic packaging makes me very depressed, even more so now somehow.

I don’t really understand how everyone doesn’t take that personally….?!

We’re trapped in ‘the system’ is the excuse for most of us….

Thank goodness Greenpeace and other campaigners are tackling what is such an enormous problem, part of the huge environmental mess we’ve made for ourselves.

There was a virtual screening of ‘The Story of Plastic’ at the end of April, broadcast by Greenwire (a Greenpeace platform) – I couldn’t bear to watch it (goodness knows how I watched that impressive but deeply depressing Meat documentary made by Liz Bonnin…).

If you’ve got the strength/stomach, the film was produced by Break Free from Plastic and first aired on Discovery Channel (US), continuing to be aired on Discovery Network affiliates around the world as late as June. A virtual community screening is open to grassroots groups, educators and individuals; and The Story of Plastic is also available to watch on the subscription DiscoveryGo streaming service, for rent on Amazon, on Apple TV, and on Xfinity video-on-demand.

So many compromises have to be made – only the most ‘squeaky clean’ can do without Amazon, these days (…?!).

I’m consoling myself with the thought that ‘something is better than nothing’ – I’m collecting plastic to be ‘upcycled’ (eventually) by Terracycle, while promoting watching a film about the evils of plastic through Amazon…..!

And some news that definitely chimes with the compromise theme this week that really, strangely, lifted my spirits – BP’s Bernard Looney (my ‘friend’ whom I’m yet to actually meet…) has said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has deepened his commitment to shrinking the oil giant’s carbon footprint to zero.

Finally, for today, I hope you all (maybe that’s only 6 of you…?!) might be interested in getting tickets for a virtual gig/performance this evening, please – Gecko, who happens to be my son, is on the bill with Isabel Losada ‘the joyful environmentalist’.

One positive consequence (there aren’t many for struggling artists) of the world of live music, arts and theatre disintegrating due to Covid-19 is that there’s a possibility of audiences in Australia, Africa, the US and the UK all being at the same event….

Check out http://www.sofastory.club

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 ….?!

Lockdown #8

May 4th, 2020

This week my attention has been drawn to an online film by Michael Moore – Planet of the Humans.

His name rang a bell for me, as I remember one of my sons collecting his books and watching his films (starting with ‘Bowling for Columbine’). 

Climate experts are calling for the film to be taken down – I’ve written to Mr Moore, on his Facebook page to start with.

Here’s a quote from a review in EcoWatch: “Environmentalists and renewable energy advocates have long been allies in the fight to keep unchecked industrial growth from irreversibly ruining Earth’s climate and threatening the future of human civilization. 

“In their new YouTube documentary “Planet of the Humans,” director Jeff Gibbs and producer Michael Moore argue for splitting the two sides. Their misleading, outdated, and scientifically sophomoric dismissal of renewable energy is perhaps the most dangerous form of climate denial, eroding support for renewable energy as a critical climate solution.

Planet of the Humans by the end of April had more than 4.7 million views and fairly high scores at the movie critic review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The documentary has received glowing reviews from numerous climate “deniers” whose names are familiar to those in the climate community, including Steve Milloy, Marc Morano, and James Delingpole. Some environmentalists who have seen the movie are beginning to oppose wind and solar projects that are absolutely necessary to slow climate change.

“The film by these two “progressive” filmmakers may succeed where Fox News and right-wing talk radio have failed: to undermine humanity’s last best hope for positive change. 

“As energy journalist Ketan Joshi wrote, the film is ‘selling far-right, climate-denier myths from nearly a decade ago to left-wing environmentalists in the 2020s.’”

As you can imagine, reading all this made me feel very depressed; but since looking at Moore’s Facebook page (lots of sensible, questioning comments), I hope that he actually does not have such huge influence after all. I certainly don’t think he/the film should be ‘gagged’ – rather, recognised for all its flaws…

Now a piece of unusual, unexpected good news – billionaire investor Warren Buffett told shareholders on Saturday that he had sold all of his company’s airline stocks. He said the world/business (the same thing to people like him…) is changing ‘in a very major way’. And EasyJet are raising prices of flights. Moving in the right direction!

Please sign, if you haven’t already, Greenpeace’s ‘Public money for public good’ open letter about not bailing out airlines.

Now, news from the inspiring Caroline Lucas.

Strengthening environmental regulations must be a key plank of the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis to help prevent the spread of future pandemics, say a cross-party group of MPs – and bailouts for industries must contain strict conditions on their future environmental performance.

Led by Caroline Lucas, our government is being urged to encourage better agriculture, help developing countries to halt deforestation, and provide funding for poor countries to improve their health systems.

Human health is dependant on that of animals, plants and the environment. It wouldn’t hurt to send Rishi Sunak a tweet or other kind of message to this effect, if you have time!

And finally, the National Portrait Gallery has announced that BP will not help judge the portrait award this year, for the first time since 1997. Good news!

Lockdown #7

April 28th, 2020

Tackling climate change must be woven into the solution to the Covid19 economic crisis – hear, hear!

Heartening news is that at this very moment, government ministers are discussing how to make that ambition a reality. (They are predominantly meeting online, of course…)

Germany has organised The Petersberg Climate Dialogue every spring since the failure of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009.

This year’s event is co-chaired by Alok Sharma – UK minister for business, energy and industrial strategy; and president of COP26 (which is still without a specific date in 2021..). 

I’ve written to him after reading his opening speech – it doesn’t mention oil…

The ‘dialogue’ brings together about 30 ministers, including from China, India and Japan, as well as representatives of small island states particularly hard hit by climate change.

For the first time, there will also be an exchange with private companies, trade unions, NGOs, scientific experts and cities.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is there – he has warned that climate change is a deeper problem than the virus.

Germany’s Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said in her opening speech: “The question of how the international community organises restarting the economy is crucial for climate protection.

“Unlike the coronavirus, we already know the vaccines against the climate crisis. They are available, affordable and make our lives better.”

Another pleasant surprise from our government (?!…) is transport minister Grant Shapps’ statement: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network”….Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that this statement was made a whole month ago (early days of lockdown) – are people going to be worried about contagion on public transport once we’re ‘let out’, meaning they feel safer in their cars? And where is the evidence of radical investment in new public transport networks? (other than HS2…)

I’ve written to Grant Shapps, asking such questions, too.

From a personal point of view, I haven’t been on a road (other than walking) since the beginning of lockdown. It makes me very happy to imagine traffic at 1950s levels (when I was a baby!) or as if every day is Christmas Day. People drive along our country lane a surprising amount, however…

Anyway, I’d love to believe the AA’s assessment that the aftermath of the Covid19 crisis will transform the way we live, work and travel in the UK. It predicts a permanent reduction in the demand for travel because people have learned during the crisis to use home-working technology.

The chancellor currently plans to spend £27bn to curb congestion on roads and £100bn on HS2 – but if demand falls, that may not be needed….

The AA’s president Edmund King added: “Arguably in future, we should invest more in broadband instead.”

BUT, as Andrew Adonis (the government’s former infrastructure tsar) said: “Lots of people are working out how to use Skype and Zoom – but on the other hand, other people can’t wait to get back to the office.

“I’m sceptical whether travel demand will drop sufficiently to counteract population growth in the UK.”

More people generally equals more travel….

I’ll end with some more specific happy news: in Florida endangered sea turtles are thriving thanks to Covid19 restrictions – researchers are seeing an increase in nests as humans and harmful waste are kept off beaches.

And Milan has announced an ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown – I hope Grant Shapps will consult the Milanese….!

Lockdown #6

April 21st, 2020

Stark contrasts are staring me in the face this week…

Tomorrow is Earth Day, a day of celebration of our wonderful planet alongside positive plans from optimistic people who are striving to save its future.

Check out earthday.org if you’d like to get involved.

Air pollution is falling to an incredible extent in big cities around the world, due to the lack of cars, factories and construction work during coronavirus lockdown. The air in Delhi, normally the world’s most polluted city, has now been described as ‘positively alpine’! BUT the fresh air cannot be enjoyed by most people, stuck inside, and the transformation is happening alongside widespread chaos and suffering especially among India’s 300 million poor.

So the solutions, though fundamentally rooted in common humanity, are ultimately political (small ‘p’, for people power…?) and about social/climate justice.

Thinking of justice for ‘ordinary people’, I’ve been corresponding with Amazon about their response to the pandemic, in terms of protecting employees as well as delivery drivers. DPD and Hermes have been given a ‘Nope’ (aka Bad) rating in a recent survey.

I don’t want this campaign to be locked into the virus situation, as you can imagine (pun half-intended!), planning to be ‘in it for the long haul’ (till the end of the climate emergency, wouldn’t that be wonderful…?!).

However, I’m increasingly aware that it is all connected.

I was on the verge of promoting a boycott of Amazon – that just wouldn’t be popular or possible, would it? Too many of us (including my family!) are semi-addicted (or, to be more fair, dependent for various reasons) to ordering deliveries.

I’ll turn my attention instead to Virgin – Richard Branson and Virgin (Airlines particularly, train lines too…) definitely deserve to lose our business.

The ‘entrepreneur’ has become so remote from reality – his priority is ‘loving his island home’, I heard one of his ‘people’ say on the radio….?! 

No airline deserves to be bailed out with public money – oh dear, this is getting to be a ‘rant’.. please visit Ali’s petition at Possible. She is, very calmly and reasonably, calling for the government to make airlines protect their workers, pay their taxes (airline fuel is still not taxed, what?…!), and cut their climate-crashing carbon emissions. Please write to your MP about this too – maybe they’ll actually read e-mails and/or sit in a virtual parliament sometime soon….?

On a more manageable ‘at home’ level, perhaps, I’ll mention Terracycle again, my heroes of recycling/upcycling! They’re running a competition – ‘an exciting global contest that enables you to win big prizes and support the causes you care about while remaining in the comfort of your own home’. Before August 27th this year, we’re invited to share what we do or our best advice by posting a message, photo or video on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (#KeepOnRecycling and tag @ TerraCycleUK) – ‘how you collect your TerraCycle waste for recycling efficiently at home!

As an individual ‘collector’ and not a charity or organization I’m not technically part of the ‘TerraCycle Community’ , but I’d still like to contribute (maybe you want to start collecting too… for your university, playgroup, community centre, workplace perhaps?).

I’ll forgo the cash prizes, but still post – a photo of the picturesque system in our shed, organised by my husband…!

Finally, on Thursday, in the world of ‘times gone by’, I would have been having a half-hour private meeting with Bernard Looney of BP. His assistant replied to a personal letter I sent the CEO of that terrible fossil fuel company, about my campaign and blog.

Of course I’ve been thinking about this loads – I’d so love to influence him.

My last ‘conversation’ with the very friendly assistant (comparing Easters with our children/grandchildren) included the following extract from an article by Guardian energy writers about the current state of the oil industry: 

“The plunging demand for oil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic combined with a savage price war has left the fossil fuel industry broken and in survival mode, according to analysts. It faces the gravest challenge in its 100-year history, they say, one that will permanently alter the industry. With some calling the scene a “hellscape”, the least lurid description is “unprecedented”.

“A key question is whether this will permanently alter the course of the climate crisis. Many experts think it might well do so, pulling forward the date at which demand for oil and gas peaks, never to recover, and allowing the atmosphere to gradually heal.

“The boldest say peak fossil fuel demand may have been dragged into the here and now, and that 2019 will go down in history as the peak year for carbon emissions. But some take an opposing view: the fossil fuel industry will bounce back as it always has, and bargain basement oil prices will slow the much-needed transition to green energy.”

I’m letting him/them know, in no uncertain terms (?!) that I hope this all will signal the end of our fossil fuelled economy – who am I to expect anything from BP….?

But I’m not going to lose anything by trying, am I?

I’ve also written to Ben van Buerden at Shell today, baiting him to win a race with Bernard Looney…?!…towards zero-carbon emissions (not possible with ANY oil of course).

Bernard Looney was quoted recently as saying, paraphrased, we always bounce back from problems, we’ve done it before… I plan to ask him how, by damaging the planet further….? Or by winning investors over to a ‘whole new world’ of green business – highly unlikely of course, but his lovely assistant assures me Mr Looney’s a ‘great human being’. I live in hope!

Lockdown #5

April 14th, 2020

Hello from our 3rd week of lockdown.

The Easter weekend weather here has been so gorgeous, and I have been enjoying it – but the hot sunshine followed by an icy cold strong wind definitely reminds me that climate change is still an urgent issue (even if this, here & now in England, is ‘just weather’…?.).

I’ve missed a couple of significant dates recently – Global Recycling Day on March 17th and World Health Day on April 7th.

Recycling is a very thorny issue – so much of it is single-use plastic, which, I believe, should not be produced in the first place. Scientists have created a bacterial enzyme, originally found in compost, that recycles plastic bottles into ‘high quality new bottles’. Do we need more plastic bottles, though?…

The best type of recycling, I think, is ‘upcycling’, using the waste to create new useful items – furniture, gardening materials, even pencil cases…this is what Terracycle, whom I’ve mentioned before, does. The immediate problem is that collection points are often in schools and community centres, which are currently all closed. So we’re gathering quite a collection in our garden shed at the moment!

My attention was drawn particularly to World Health Day this year, a bit strangely, by a campaign against trophy hunting – ‘big game’ (wild animals, basically..) trophy hunting across the world has halted, thank goodness, because of coronavirus stopping hunters travelling. Let’s hope they see the error of their ways during their ’time out’…?!

Earth Day is on April 22nd. In 1970, apparently, 20 million people took to the streets for the sake of the environment on the world’s first Earth Day. I was 13 years old and knew nothing about that significant day, but since then I’ve become a vegetarian, helped create a children’s show involving concrete, cycling and the Rainbow Warrior (a perfect mix?!), done school teaching projects about pollution etc – why did the Earth wait until we are at crisis point before even considering changes….?

This year, the organisation ‘We Don’t Have Time’ is holding a public, online, no-fly climate conference to mark Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, discussing climate solutions within five main themes – Finance, Circular Economy and Consumption, Big Ideas and Education, Food and Agriculture and Local Government. Christiana Figueres, who was the inspiring speaker at my niece’s graduation ceremony from Bristol University last summer, is participating – she is the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

To coincide with Earth Day, a friend (thank you, Brenda!) has sent me a link to www.earthdayswitch.org Too many banks & other financial institutions continue to invest trillions of pounds in dirty fossil fuel industries – visit the website & check how your bank performs: HSBC is one of the worst. They own First Direct (whom we’re with, and who are so personal & attentive – I’ve written to their CEO, it seems they have a clean smile covering a dirty face….). We should move our money, really….I’ll keep pressuring & demanding answers, at least…

Finally, I’ll mention the G20 meeting (virtual, presumably) – Sum of Us drew my attention to the fact that tomorrow (April 15th), the world’s leading finance ministers will consider the global COVID-19 economic recovery plan. A group of scientists and economists is fighting hard for change, trying to prevent corporations pressuring our leaders to choose ‘business as usual’.

Please sign the petition (I’ve tweeted#grandmaglobal & Facebooked it – the latter’s probably not a word…?!), demanding a recovery plan for the planet. We all need to ’think big’! Urgently!

Lockdown #4

April 8th, 2020

Hello again, I feel a bit lost, I have to admit, about which way to go with this campaign/blog, but I do feel I want/need to continue.

So today I’m taking a bit of an easy option and drawing your attention to an article in The Guardian (April 7th), written by Rebecca Solnit. She writes: “The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected. 

“At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us.  “We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.”

She quotes her climate campaigner friend from the Philippines saying (sorry, quote within a quote…): “We are witness today to daily displays of love …acts of courage and citizenship ..instances that whisper to us that the depredations of a few will eventually be overcome by legions of stubborn people who refuse the counsel of despair, violence, indifference and arrogance that so-called leaders appear so eager nowadays to trigger.”

Returning to Ms Solnit’s article, ‘Hope in a time of crisis’, she cites the poet Wordsworth writing a little more than 200 years ago: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

There are many other hopeful statements, sprinkled with realistic acknowledgment of the negative influence of rulers around the world who stubbornly and damagingly deny science and critical thinking. Her conclusion, paraphrased by me, is: It is to be hoped that this shared experience of catastrophe will lead to a new awareness of how each of us belongs to the whole and depends on it, strengthening the case for meaningful climate action.

Now I’m going to refer to an article I cut out (Guardian again..) more than a month ago – if the world continues to emit carbon at its current rate, sea levels will rise by an estimated 80cm. If this happens, a total of 131,745km of beaches, or 13% of the planets’s ice-free coastline, will go under water. To put it in ‘accessible’ UK terms, beaches in Norfolk & Suffolk and around Brighton, Southampton and Bournemouth are likely to be lost. Robert Nicholls, the director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, said: “In the UK, part of manmade erosion results from protecting cliffs whose wearing would normally top up the associated beaches with gravel. “This happens, for example, in Bournemouth, to safeguard luxury properties built on top of fancy viewpoints.” We need to object to local councils, to block planning permission for such selfish developments….

I’ll end with two bits of good news: Stella McCartney is influencing the fashion world. Her fashion brand is without leather, fur, skins, feathers or animal glues; and she has a role as special adviser on sustainability to the luxury fashion group LVMH. The latter’s CEO Bernard Arnault was widely criticised last year after describing Greta Thunberg as ‘demoralising’….Let’s hope Ms McCartney is influencing him, to re-think, too.

And Greenpeace New Zealand has announced ‘Epic News’ – the country’s court of appeal upheld the decision to deny a giant seabed mine planned for the South Taranaki Bight. Go, Aotearoa!

So, this ‘edition’ of mine seems to have the theme of Oceans – please join the campaign for a strong Global Ocean Treaty (check out details with Greenpeace). The health of oceans is intrinsically linked with our own.

Lockdown #3

April 7th, 2020

I’ve heard from Chris Stark, the CEO of the Committee on Climate Change, telling me not to despair! Apparently, the return of investors for ‘net zero’ projects now look better, in many cases, than the returns on oil and gas projects.

This is a bit difficult to hear when there is also news at the moment of some companies and investors ‘cashing in’ on the Covid19 epidemic…There will always be selfish, unashamed greedy people, I guess….

However chaotic the current UK government seems to us at this moment too, Mr Stark also says it ‘seems to have a good grip on the issues and are already asking the right questions about what needs to come next’. Good!

As you may already know, the COP 26 conference due to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November has been postponed to next year – now we have to hope 2021 will be the year to start the world on the right track, I guess…

Good news about a dent in the future of the coal industry too – the Fridays for Future protest last month (before lockdown in Germany) at Siemens’ annual shareholder meeting was so huge it was reported on by media from all over the world. Climate defenders made it clear to shareholders that Siemens’ collaboration with the Adani coal project in Australia is damaging not only the environment but the company’s reputation.

Now I’m going to extend my ‘mission’ against eating meat – to joining in the call that wild animals around the world should not be eaten. This would help prevent the spread of disease, and also address one of the major drivers of species extinction.

In the wake of the initial outbreak of Covid 19 in Wuhan, China introduced a ban on all farming and consumption of live wildlife, which is expected to become law later this year – thousands of wildlife farms raising animals such as porcupines, civets and turtles have been shut down. Unfortunately there are remaining loopholes, allowing the trade in wild animals for medicine, pets and scientific research. Ironically an injection has been produced as a coronavirus treatment that contains bear bile. Sorry. Disgusting, even to carnivores…?!

I’ll return to the more general, fundamental point – as Professor Cunningham, of the Zoological Society of London, said: “If we’re to stop another pandemic in the future, we must focus on causes as well as effects.

At the root of the problem is the destruction of nature, bringing animals and humans into conflict….

“It’s not just happening in China, it’s happening in many other countries and even in the western world. We like to have exotic pets and many of those are wild caught – we ought to be putting our own house in order too.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society is calling for a ban on wildlife consumption, the wildlife trade and the destruction of Nature.

Finally, I hope I still have a few readers (…?!). Thank you, and please continue to check my tweets at #grandmaglobal – there are a lot of petitions worth putting your name to… Please!