Many people would rather forget 2016 and its catalogue of mistakes, disasters and deaths. On the environment, we saw US President-Elect Trump start a witch hunt of climate scientists and propose putting climate sceptics and oil executives in charge of environmental protection and foreign policy. At the UN climate conference in Marrakech (pictured) there was little appetite to live up to the ambitions of the conference in Paris a year earlier. Brexit threatens 40 years of environmental gains. The UK government approved the first new nuclear reactors since Thatcher, overruled massive local opposition to approve fracking and went backwards on renewable energy.
Posted in Air Pollution, Arctic, Biomass, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coalbed methane, Divest / Reinvest, Fossil Free, Fracking, Low Carbon Power, Nuclear, Oil, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas, Transport, Uncategorized, Unconventional gas
19-year-old Stefan Lee Goodwin is walking a mind-blowing 5,000 km (3,100 miles) from John O’Groats to the shores of Bulgaria’s Black Sea, and he’s raising money for charities, including Friends of the Earth Scotland, along the way!
We caught up with Stefan just as he was passing through Carlisle and he kindly took the time to answer some of our questions. Read our exchange below.
For many of us, 2016 seemed like a particularly tough year. It brought some major environmental setbacks, culminating in the election of a new US president with an extremely regressive environmental agenda. However, this year was not all doom and gloom for the environment. Thanks to our supporters, we were able to make progress towards a greener, safer Scotland and celebrate a number of successes – read on for the highlights. Continue reading
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
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.
Posted in Activism, Arctic, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Fossil Free, Fracking, Low Carbon Power, Oil, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas
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 …
I 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.
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.
The 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.
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).
Posted in Activism, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coalbed methane, Fossil Free, Fracking, Low Carbon Power, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas, Unconventional gas
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.
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.
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.
Fossil free activists in September 2016. Photo credit: Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland