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
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
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.
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
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.
Posted in Access to Environmental Justice, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Climate Justice, European Trading Scheme, Fossil Free, Fracking, Green Economy, Politics & Parliament, Renewables, Shale gas, Transport
Tagged Brexit, EU Referendum
In May the Church of Scotland voted to stop investing in energy companies causing the worst climate pollution: producers of tar sands, a highly destructive form of oil extraction, and coal.
A petition begun by Church of Scotland members calling for total divestment from fossil fuels received almost 3,000 names in just over three weeks. Continue reading