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.
In 1993 the Norwegian Environment Minister called John Gummer, the UK Environment Secretary, a drittsekk – a shitbag– because of the massive impact on Scandinavian lakes and forest of acid rain caused by emissions from British power stations. In the 1980s Britain was known as ‘the Dirty Man of Europe’ because of our widespread pollution of air, land and water. We are now in danger of regaining that reputation.
It is largely thanks to 40 years of European laws on industrial pollution, water quality, nature protection and clean air that the environment we live in has improved. Sometimes the UK has been a willing participant, sometimes even a leader, but most often we have been dragged along to meet standards others in Europe take for granted.
Spread the word by sharing this blog with friends and family now.
If you’re a Church member you can also do the vital job of encouraging parish commissioners attending the General Assembly to support divestment.
The Church of Scotland will be voting on whether to partially divest from fossil fuels in their pensions and investment trusts, the later of which is worth at £265,000. You can read the motion for discussion in the General Assembly papers at this link (go to p.182).
The month Rio Tinto are holding their annual meeting in London. To time with this environmental organisations Re:Common and the World Rainforest Movement have released a new report investigating another aspect of the company’s practices: their investments in offsetting schemes. Continue reading →
When world leaders sign the new deal to tackle climate change at the UN on Friday it will mark an important step on the road to dealing with this huge global problem. It is also a clear recognition by countries across the world, including Scotland, of the need to take urgent action.
Inside the Paris Climate Conference
The historic deal was agreed by 196 nations at the UN climate change summit in Paris in December. They have committed to limiting the global temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2oC and to drive efforts to keep the increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Accord includes the promise by wealthy industrialised nations to provide $100bn per year to help vulnerable countries to adopt clean energy and cope with the impacts of climate change. Continue reading →
Scotland’s economic debate is yet to come to terms with the end of the North Sea oil industry. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bates/Friends of the Earth EWNI
Some events on a weekend in March and a couple of recent reports have spread a bit of light in the otherwise dull landscape of debate about the economy in Scotland.
Matthew Crighton, Climate Jobs Campaigner, discusses the Glasgow Economics Forum, John McDonnell MP’s New Economic Lecture, Banking for the Common Good and Common Weal’s report on Towards an Industrial Policy for Scotland.
The Glasgow Economics Forum on 19-20 March heard about a diverse range of ways of thinking about the real economy, underlying trends which are challenging any conventional analysis of where we are going and choices which have to be made about that – from top speakers including Paul Mason, Steve Keen and Victoria Chick. It’s organised entirely by students – the Glasgow University Real Economics Society, set up to ‘promote pluralism in economic thought’, in reaction to the monopoly which neo-classical economics exercises in that university, just as in the others in Scotland. The bits I was able to attend were stimulating and the large number of students in the audience was inspiring. But apart from the speakers there didn’t seem to be many professional economists… Continue reading →
Our air pollution problem is mainly caused by traffic and our unhealthy relationship with the car, a relationship which the Scottish Government has fostered by spending millions every year on building new trunk roads and motorways, is creating a culture which is quite literally poisoning us.
With the election exclusion zone now in place around the Government, and Ministers not allowed to announce any new policies, we have decided to fill the void and put forward some policies of our own …
When the steam turbines at Longannet power station cease to turn some time tomorrow there will be no coal being burnt for electricity production anywhere in Scotland for the first time in at least 115 years. For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this will be a hugely significant step, the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland.
By Guinnog (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
It all started in 1901 when Pinkston power station at Glasgow’s Port Dundas started burning coal to make the electricity to run Glasgow’s trams and street lighting. Other stations came and went, with the twin chimneys at Cockenzie finally coming down last autumn. The last remaining plant, Longannet, started generating in1970 and was then the largest coal-fired power station in Europe. Today it is still the second largest coal station in the UK and the third largest in Europe.