A third of Scottish Universities divest as Abertay and UWS join the party

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Student campaigning organisation People & Planet published the results of their University League today, confirming that two further Scottish universities have divested entirely from fossil fuels.

University of the West of Scotland and Dundee’s Abertay University have pledged not to invest in any fossil fuels.

According to People & Planet UK, UWS’ commitment follows a year-long student campaign (pictured, above) calling on the University to sell its £1 million investments in fossil fuels. Student campaigners have staged dozens of actions to put pressure on university decision-makers. Continue reading

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Marrakech blog – still waiting for action on climate change

For a while this meeting looked like it might be that rarest of things, a UN climate conference that actually finished on time rather than running into Saturday or even Sunday. But, true to UN form, talks broke down last night, the Moroccan chair produced a compromise proposal at 2:30am and the public session to discuss it slipped from the initially advertised 11am to a new time of 3pm. Then 4pm. Then 5pm. People hung about at 5 but in the end the meeting didn’t get going for another 40 minutes, chaired by a deputy because the Moroccan minister who is the chair of the conference was no doubt off knocking heads together on some key issue of disagreement.

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Posted in Activism, Arctic, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Fossil Free, Fracking, Low Carbon Power, Oil, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas | Leave a comment

Marrakech blog – Paris Agreement gets going but much to resolve

Yesterday saw the first formal meeting under the Paris Agreement, complete with a red carpet for minister, heads of state and royalty.  There was an overnight rumour from Washington that President-Elect Trump would use this occasion to announce that he would pull the US out of the both last year’s Agreement and the overarching climate convention from 1992.  Conversely, yesterday UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was sure Trump would see sense.  At the time of writing there were no new developments either way …

imgp1478I met our Climate Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, with Ann Kathrin from FoE Germany and Kwami from FoE Togo.  We discussed African responses to climate change, like the developing Renewable Energy Initiative.  We also talked about the new climate plan Germany has just published, and what the two countries can learn from each other about increasing action to reduce emissions while also bringing the public along with them.  The Cabinet Secretary had spent some of yesterday speaking at an event for states and regions who are leading the fight to reduce emissions.  She spoke to US representatives and took heart from their strong determination to keep doing what they are doing, whatever Mr Trump does.

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Marrakech blog – urgent action needed and still possible despite Trump

Yesterday at the UN Climate Conference in Marrakech a broad coalition of development, union, faith and environment groups laid out their analysis of where the world is heading and the urgent action that is needed to meet the targets agreed at last year’s conference in Paris.

imgp0852The group includes ActionAid, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and the International Trade Union Confederation. Their analysis shows that no country is on track to do their fair share of cutting emissions, and the developed countries are those furthest from making an appropriate contribution. Their sobering message is that the world needs to try three times harder, and quickly, if we are to have any chance of stopping climate change before it exceeds the 1.5ºC safety threshold agreed at Paris.

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Fight Fracking for a Fossil Free Future

As I write this I’m about to head for the UN climate conference in Marrakech, where countries are supposed to be agreeing on the actions that will deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement, signed last December.

A key focus for us at this conference is to get urgent action in the period before the Paris targets come into force in 2020. Despite all the back slapping and tears of joy at last year’s conference, early emissions reduction is something that the Paris meeting completely failed to stimulate. (It would be churlish to mention that it was a UK Government minister who was given a key role in trying to make this happen).

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Posted in Activism, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coalbed methane, Fossil Free, Fracking, Low Carbon Power, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas, Unconventional gas | Leave a comment

Let’s reinvest Scottish pension funds in communities

Last weekend I had a stand at ‘Idea Space’, a political festival run by Common Weal to share progressive ideas for how Scotland can prosper, become more equal, and be a good global citizen. Timed to take place alongside the SNP conference, thousands of folk came along to fill their heads with practical proposals for change.

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Ric at IdeaSpace. Photo: @Common_Weal

Some ideas were audacious, bold, aimed at big global problems of which Scotland is just one part. Plans for radical land reform, a National Investment Bank and a Basic Income for all citizens were all presented and pored over. Plenty of the ideas were also for right now – things that government can do right away with existing powers.

I was promoting one idea that both makes an impact on a global problem, and makes a clear difference at home in Scotland: reinvestment.

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People Power bans Underground Coal Gasification

In a huge victory for people power, the Scottish Government has banned Underground Coal Gasification today. Almost a year ago to the day, the Government announced a moratorium on UCG following a groundswell of opposition to reckless proposals to set coal seams alight under the Firths of Forth and Solway. Simply the prospect of 2,000 people joining hands across the Forth Road Bridge was enough to convince the Government to act, with the moratorium announced a couple of days before the unprecedented protest.

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Fossil free activists in September 2016. Photo credit: Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland

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Upcoming Events

We’ve lots of great events coming up soon so we’ve gathered them all in one place to make sure you don’t miss out!

Campaigning for “Clean Air Neighbourhoods”: Training Workshop
Saturday 8 October 2016 | 10:00 to 16:00
Glasgow Quaker Meeting House, 38 Elmbank Cres, Glasgow G2
An opportunity to plan campaigns geared at getting your Councillors and Council candidates to make strong commitments to deliver “Clean Air Neighbourhoods” if elected in 2017. You’ll have a chance to meet other people across the Central Belt keen to take action to improve air quality and their local environment, make campaign plans, and learn and share valuable media skills.
Lunch is included and you can book your place now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/campaigning-for-clean-air-neighbourhoods-1-day-training-workshop-tickets-27092494380 

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Will there be change in the air after Brexit?

The seismic shocks after the earthquake of the EU referendum are showing no signs of easing, with the UK’s political parties in a mess, and Sturgeon here in Scotland exploring options to deliver on the Scottish people’s mandate to stay in Europe. It’s worth stepping back and reflecting on why people voted to leave the EU. Some leave voters were disenchanted with politics, feeling that politicians did not speak to, or for them. Others were worried that their children will inherit a world which is in worse shape than the one they grew up in. For many, their vote to leave was about taking command of their livelihoods.

The tragic irony is that by leaving the EU, the UK has opened the door to the erosion of fundamental freedoms and legislation which protects our dignity as human beings: laws around human rights, a healthier environment, and workers’ rights.

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Creative Commons EU Protest” by Ben Scicluna is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Divesting from fossil fuels as we leave the EU

On 23 June the UK voted to leave the European Union. Given the EU’s role in negotiating carbon quotas, driving renewable energy and regulating manufacturing it’s clear that this decision will have wide ranging ramifications for the fight against climate change. But how does this decision impact on our efforts to challenge fossil fuel companies through divestment? Continue reading

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