East Midlands Green Party Blog


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Breathless – our right to breathe

Taken by Antonia Zenkevitch at The Blue Wave March against Climate Change.

Taken by Antonia Zenkevitch at The Blue Wave March against Climate Change.

Successive government policies are failing in safeguarding the rights of many to breathe. Fracking plans are part of a long line of health threats being created. The Green Party is different.

3 people a day die of asthma in the UK, 200 a day are rushed to emergency care. Although triggers are diverse, some of these deaths are warning signals that the air we breathe is not safe.  Exhaust fumes, for example, can trigger an attack that leaves the airways inflamed, constricted, obstructed, twisted.  Air pollutants, harsh chemicals in the home or work place and stress are some of the triggers, as are extremes of temperature.  Areas of the world where fracking is underway show rising  asthma and other health crisis. Texas, where drilling is heavy has a 25% asthma rate in young children compared to national average of 7%.  The government fracking plans could raise mortality rates in the UK. Asthma rates already rising with connections to climate change, air quality and poverty arguably triggers. Resistant virus strains and threats to basic well-being and immunity also factors.

You may ask how is this related to the Green Party? I would answer it is related in every way.  The Green Party policies are generally cleverly designed and focus on protecting the things that provide well-being.  A good public transport system, green industry and a safe and funded NHS for example are fundamental to general well-being. These are also things that could save lives and dignity.  The Green Party shows the way in these areas within the political arena. No other party does. Asthma rates are political because they spur us on to re-examine political priorities. The government on the other hand seems to be gaslighting – playing a game of smoke and mirrors. Under the new De-Regulation Bill the Con-Dem Government would remove any requirement for councils to produce assessments after designating air quality zones. As there are unsafe air zones it strikes me as vital that assessments should be made and protection put in place. The De-Regulation Bill is also designed to ‘remove burdens on business’ (to be ethical?) and ‘repeal legislation no longer of use’ (according to whose priorities?). This bill paves the way for fracking for example in a similar way to fracking being made exempt from The Clean Water Act in USA. It is one of the ways the Com-Dem government risks lives and Labour gives no opposition.

I am a wheezy Green. Ours is one of the one in five homes in the UK affected by asthma. A quarter of a million people have asthma so severe that medicine available does not work for them and even mild asthma can be fatal.  In 2011 alone asthma rates rose 12 %. Child asthma rates are rising most steeply (as is child poverty) with more young systems unable to deal with hazards in the air.  I have had a couple of nasty attacks recently, have pneumonia  and am trying to get my airways working properly. Many of us also contend with airborne, food and other allergies.   The body under duress sometimes mistakes friend for foe. As I work in the underfunded voluntary sector it cost me a large proportion of wages in prescriptions after my becoming ill just to make sure I can keep breathing. How many cannot afford to breathe?

The privatisation of our NHS by Labour, Conservatives and LibDems in successive governments also endangers lives. (It also takes jobs and so destablises society and the economy). It takes longer to be treated. We are inundated with consumer choice and lacking in patient care. A friend of mine from University days has worked some years in a hospital blood testing lab.  Her hours are long, her weekends rare, the staff were just 4 to one large hospital. She tells me a ‘Super Lab’ with the same number of people serving 4 hospitals is the new way of apparently ‘putting patients first’.  This for me illustrates the vampiric nature of commerce coming before care.  Even the term ‘superlab’ seems crass.

Social injustice costs lives. Of the deaths caused by asthma and many other diseases, rising healthcare costs and decreasing benefits to those who need them play their part. There is systematic dehumanisation of so many in and out of paid work who cannot afford to eat well or heat their homes. So many literally cannot afford the cost of living.  If you can’t afford to heat your home the cold air can be rejected by asthmatic lungs.  Fear or emotional trauma can also trigger an attack. With so many struggling to make ends meet in a prevailing political culture of divide and rule, this increases the health threats to many. Under extreme pressure many people are more likely to smoke more, less likely to look after themselves and more likely to put their own and other’s health at risk.  A struggling single parent said in Life’s A Drag: Women, Smoking and Disadvantage, Hilary Graham, 1993 “I smoke more if I’ve got bills coming in, I tend to get worried. Like Christmas is coming and I’m not able to afford the things I want.” Then there is the hunger for so many, with Foodbanks needed ever more.  Poverty and austerity – that poison masked as medicine – are killers.

Climate Chaos and poverty are closely related threats. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, includes in its research the effects of Climate Change on health threats rising and continuing to rise. Asthma is one disease on the rise, together with respiratory allergies, airborne diseases, heart-disease and stroke, cancer, foodborne and waterborne diseases, human development defects, neurological disorders, mental health and stress related ill-health, heat related morbidity and mortality … The list goes on. Our Governments answer is willful ignorance unchallenged by Labour. Plans for fracking, licences for dangerous pesticides, erosion of safety measures to protect clean air ‘zones’, new airport runways all carry threats. You do not have to look for the tsunamis, droughts and ash clouds to see climate change take life. It is there in the silence after a fatal asthma attack takes a child on a day you can taste pollution in the air. Behind closed doors, in homes, climate chaos costs lives. Those it often takes are those with problems accessing or affording care.

Our health security relies on a great number of things; saving the NHS, tackling true causes of poverty, protecting land and water, investing renewable energy and clean air targets. These are all things central to Green Party policy and for the most part fundamentally lacking in the other parties. I choose to focus this post on asthma because, if you pardon the pun, I had something to get off my chest and the issue is literally close to my own heart. It is one issue that shows how politics based on the common good can change lives.  The idiocy and arrogance of successive governments literally leaves millions breathless.   The Green Party is challenging itself and the UK to be the very best it can be. Now, that to me is a breath of fresh air! For me personally being ill was a reminder that fighting for The Green Party and its policies is in so many uncountable ways a fight for life.

Antonia Zenkevitch 2014

References and Further Reading include:

http://greenparty.org.uk/policies.html

http://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/our-programs/fracking/whats-wrong-with-fracking-2/air-pollution

http://www.asthma.org.uk/knowledge-bank-smog

http://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/about.htm 


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Derbyshire Greens Solidarity with Barton Moss anti-fracking Campaign

Derbyshire Green Party

Members of Derbyshire Green Party visited the anti fracking protest camp at Barton Moss near Irlam, Salford, on Saturday January 4th. They were welcomed by a diverse bunch of campers, male and female, old and young, who remained in high spirits despite the atrocious weather and the heavy handed policing, which has seen as many as 30 arrests for peaceful protests in the last few weeks.

Green Party members from Manchester and from the South of England were also visiting and the Green Party was given credit for being the only parliamentary party in England which has stated its unqualified opposition to fracking.

” MPs from other parties, including MPs from round here, have been given permission by party leaders to oppose fracking in their own area whilst being required to support it in principle.  It is the worst form of cynicism, designed to get them through the next election”…

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‘Bribe’ anger as PM backs fracking

The Northants Green Party Blog

ImageThe Government has renewed its push to promote controversial “fracking” for shale gas, as French energy giant Total confirmed it was investing in the industry in the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that local authorities in England would receive 100% of the business rates collected from shale gas schemes, rather than the usual 50%.

It is the latest move by the Government to promote the exploitation of unconventional gas in the UK, which the Prime Minister claimed could bring the UK 74,000 jobs, more than £3 billion of investment and cheaper and more secure energy.

But environmentalists criticised the business rates incentive as a “bribe” to reluctant local authorities.

And they warned that it raised serious concerns over conflicts of interest if the councils benefiting from the money were the ones deciding on planning applications.

Opponents fear fracking, a process in which liquid is pumped deep underground at high…

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What a Gas – Digging for Truth

In this final piece for November’s Focus on Energy, Mike Shipley from Derbyshire Speaks:

UCG, the Underground Coal Gamble

I heard something very interesting from a man who came to check my gas meter.  He told me that the Government was not allowing new housing development to be connected up to the gas mains, because gas was in short supply.  Yet Gideon Osbourn has said that 30 new gas fired power stations are to be built in the UK.

So what does Gideon know that he’s not yet telling the house builders?  We suspect that fracking is not going to be the gas bonanza that the industry is hyping it up to be.  With it unproven in the UK, building our energy future on  frack-gas would be reckless even by the standards of the ConDem Coalition. But, gambler Osbourn holds two cards in his hand, and at least one of them he believes is trumps.

This second card is Underground Coal Gasification, UCG.  An unproven technology designed to use proven reserves.  Britain’s wealth was built on coal and some believe that King Coal is about to come back from the dead and endow great riches for a select few.  All private wealth, most of which will head off shore so as not to bother the tax man too much.

The Government is currently issuing licences for UCG to private companies. That is, they are handing over a national resource to private developers with no discussion as to whether this is in our collective interest. These  are described as ‘Conditional Licences’, and are available on application for a very modest fee.  The companies that are taking the licences are mostly overseas registered and have no prior experience in UCG.  Indeed experience with this technology is scant, most pilots to date have ended in either financial or technical failure.

UCG involves the partial combustion of coal where it lies, using high pressure steam and oxygen.  A combustible mixture of methane and carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide known as syngas is then forced back to the surface for further processing.  A joint EU project in Spain that the UK [under Labour] helped to finance exploded and was abandoned.  An Australian venture suffered a similar fate and the Queensland Government put a moratorium on further developments.  But, desperate to find the fuel for their gas powered energy future, the ConDems have flung the UK’s doors open to this unproven technology to be handled by inexperienced companies.  Recipe for Disaster?

In terms of energy policy this is a disaster that we will have to pay for with rising bills and footing any insurance claims made against the bankrupted companies who will walk away from their failure.  But in terms of wealth creation, it is set to be bonanza time.  Development costs will be largely paid for by the tax payer. The new energy companies will be floated with glossy prospectuses and, having Government backing they will draw in high levels of venture capital, their executives and share holders – often the same people, getting huge bonuses and dividends.  If the technology works and the UK’s coal reserves can be gasified, the potential revenue is huge, but this will not be used to build a sovereign fund, as Norway did with its North Sea oil, but will be used to enrich the already wealthy.

Is opposition to UCG just sour grapes because some people will get very rich?  No, our opposition to it is because it is a fossil fuel that will accelerate Climate Change and leave a clean up legacy that we will all have to pay for.  Paying lip service to the UK’s climate change commitments to reduce Carbon emissions, the Government is telling the companies involved, that they must capture the carbon dioxide produced. Carbon Capture and Storage [CCS] is another unproven technology and the UK’s only pilot project at Longannet in Scotland closed because no one was prepared to pay for it.  So the industry won’t be expected to use what isn’t available, and anyway CCS is only expected if the gas is used to generate electricity.  If the gas is used for other purposes, to make liquid fuels for examples, then CCS will not be required.  Therefore UCG  releasing carbon dioxide in the syngas  and also when the syngas is burned. Its warming potential will end up being the same as burning the coal in power stations.  It is not a clean technology, once again the Government is being deliberately misleading about the full impact of its energy strategy.  It is failing to address Climate Change and failing to secure affordable energy for all. It’s real focus is on economic growth, at any cost, and  private wealth creation.

Because of the high global value of liquid fuels and the growing uncertainty about oil reserves, the real plan for UCG gas is for liquid fuel. That is the big prize.  Moreover, in the interests of profit, it will be sold on the open market to the highest bidder – and that will not be the average British subject. And if this is the outcome, where, we might ask, is Gideon going to get his gas from for his 30 power stations?  Where we get it from now, on the open market, where prices will be for ever rising.  This Government’s energy policy and its dash for gas builds in continual price rises for the domestic customer and does nothing to address fuel poverty.

Mr Osbourn is indeed a gambler.  He is staking everything on getting the economy growing again. Growth is the only policy he has, and growth needs energy.  He totally fails to realise that in a world of declining resources and changing climate, conventional growth fuelled by conventional fuels can no longer be sustained.  We now live at a time of transition, forced upon us by our over exploitation of global resources in the name of growth and wealth creation.  This Government is failing to acknowledge this fact and is recklessly gambling with our future by desperately throwing the last fossil fuel card onto the table.  It may pay out for a minority, who will take the money and run, leaving the mess that they have created for us to clean up.

This blog was inspired by Mel Kelly’s article ‘Theft of Austerity Britain’s Coal’ published by frackingfreeireland.org.  My thanks to Danni Saxton-Turtle for additional research

[Mike Shipley November 2013]


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Another Voice on Energy

In the finale of our month’s focus on energy a post written by John Youatt

Energy, the people and the planet

We depend on energy, In our daily lives, in business in our leisure time, we use energy and all too often we take it for granted.  Understandably people get cross if the power fails, or if the fuel they want gets too expensive.  Governments know this and energy policy focuses on security of supply and affordability.  The ConDem Government will claim that this is exactly what it is doing.  It is backing nuclear and a big push for gas to ‘keep the lights on’ as they keep saying, and the Tories want to scrap the green levies to keep prices down.  But this is all short term thinking, it is not costing in the full impacts of a nuclear-fossil fuel energy strategy, it is more about winning the next election than securing safe and affordable energy for the next generation.

UK is rightly and legally committed to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere and into the sea, by  15% by 2020 and by 50% by 2050. These are the minimum to avoid massive harm by erratic warming, melting, and climate chaos. Science says that, to achieve these targets, most ancient carbon (oil, coal and gas) must be left in the ground, and/or the carbon must be captured and returned to the ground.

It is tehnically possible to achieve these targets in the UK and internationally by carbon capture, and by harvesting wind, wave, sea current, solar and biomass energy. It’s unnecessary to look for more.

We now know beyond any remaining doubt (Cameron in the lower house October 2013), that the Tory-driven coalition government is determined to stay in power in 2015, by appealing to voters by short-term cost cutting: and by satisfying the right wing and global capital by massive investment in the unsafe carbon based technologies. This is a disastrous policy framework both for the majority of people and for the planet since it builds in rising prices and carbon emissions. It fails to establish a clear framework to support the development of sustainable renewable energy.

In the light of the science and even of the full economics of energy and climate change, (Stern), it beggar belief that any sane or logical government would be so stupid as to turn their back on renewable energy and back unsustainable fossil and nuclear. But we need to remember that, the carbon pirates are highly  persuasive, because of the massive power of the global capital invested in carbon by organisations and powerful individuals.

The UK is very well endowed with  renewable sources of energy, even solar, and we might think that the Government would grab the enormous opportunity presented to it, but it doesn’t.  Instead it does all it can to load the dice against renewables in favour of fossil and nuclear.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, set up by Ed Milliband, raised the profile of climate change to primary cabinet level for the first time. Ed noted Germany’s Greens’-inspired successes, including the winding down of nuclear power and the use of tariffs and taxes to encourage renewables. Germany now has 300,000  jobs in renewable energy and already exceeds it’s 20% renewable target for 2020. The coalition government and Cameron, its PR spinner, works relentlessly to blame energy prices on green taxes through a compliant media, and is threatening to scrap them.  The Government and its media poodles regularly attack investments in energy saving that really help households and ignore the reality of global price rises for fossil fuels.  They also ignore the profits and dividends of the big energy companies that are effectively a cartel. Price rises by one are followed within a few days by similar rises by the others. Yet smaller energy companies  eg Good Energy (100% green) don’t get the support they need.

Despite the fact that the science clearly states that to avoid dangerous climate change – a global temperature rise of 2ºC, the Government annually pours over £2 billion in subsidies and tax breaks into the fossil fuel sector.  In addition it is backing extreme energies like fracking and Underground Coal Gasification with big tax breaks paid for by all of us.  And if all this wasn’t enough to rub fossilised salt in to our green wounds, the Government is now backing a new generation of nuclear power stations, built by French and Chinese state owned companies who will earn guaranteed profits paid for by us who will also have to clean up the mess of the abandoned reactors in 30 years time.

Government energy policy is leaving a dangerous legacy of rising bills, reliance on dwindling fossil and uranium supplies and a nuclear clean up bill that will dwarf the profits made. Green policy would end this nonsense.  Because we all depend on energy, its supply should not be used as a means to make massive private profits. Green policy to promote renewables and scale down fossil and nuclear, would secure a sustainable supply for now and for the future that will enable all to afford energy that does not represent a long term threat to the well being for either the people or the planet.

© John Youatt for DGP October 2103

Here is a brief account of the good energies – good for people and for our planet:

Solar energy 1            (Solar electric or PV panels; solar thermal panels; air, ground or water source heat pumps; thermodynamic panels; electric-to-heat-store transfer).

All arms of this industry have grown exponentially since Ed Milliband set up DECC. All take energy direct from the sun. They are supported by tariffs which have survived Government cuts, but have been atrociously managed by the coalition, jealous of the diversion of funds from the fossil fuel economy. Solar panels, despite the lack of Government support remain good value, whether funded from personal savings, from business plans or as rental installations.

Solar energy 2 : Biomass

Virtually all biomass can return photosynthetic energy from the sun as heat and/or electrical energy.  The main technologies are anaerobic digestion (AD); incineration of mixed wastes; and growing crops for oil, usually in place of food.  Huhne was this time not lying when he placed AD as the best of this bunch in the coalition agreement. AD is a managed natural process like brewing that produces heat, electricity and nutrients from material that would have gone to ground. The AD nutrients replace expensive high energy artificial fertilisers and reduce poisoning of ground waters. Wood burning as log or chip works locally, however the jury is out on large scale wood burning because of processing and haulage costs. Sadly, big business conned local authorities into signing 25 year contracts for incineration, which requires huge waste miles, and is far less beneficial than AD, and reduces recycling.  Greens do not support incineration.

Solar energy 3  Solar power stations .

Technically these have to be big, requiring low value land space and strong sunlight. They are not for low-sun, high-density states such as most of the EU, but could be good news for the Sahel region, provided a mutually benefit deal can be developed between the EU and the host nation.

Wind

There are broadly two categories of wind power generation

  • individual machines, usually of small to medium size, designed to meet the energy use where they stand (eg c.100kW capacity/25m height for a large dairy farm or 250kw/35m for a village). check These micro generators also save transmission costs (up to 20% in centralised generation) check by using networks ‘in the opposite direction’.
  • large machines, now typically 2mW/ 50m check often in groups or ‘arrays’ of up a hundred on land or out to sea.

They are both highly desirable components of the UK and world wide energy mix.

The Tories are obsessed by hatred of wind turbines in the landscape and of state support being given to them. It is true that there are extremes of views from moving sculptures, even ‘objects of grace and desire’; to a blot on a beloved landscape. Unfortunately the ‘antis’ use lies and spin to make their case, ignoring the absolute need for wind power in the UK energy mix, and their hatred, bred largely by big poorly designed and over greedy windfarms, leaks into the mindset and infects reactions to well designed schemes.  As a result, investors are discouraged and go abroad, and the UK has missed out on being a world leader in wind technology.

 

Waves and sea currents         It was of course Maggie that took against research into sea power why?  Ever so slowly, too slowly, investment is now going ahead, from private and public sources, into sea-current and wave power.

 

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)   Not a renewable energy technology, but a means of cutting carbon emissions enabling us to use fossil reserves as  bridging fuels to secure energy supply while the renewable system is developed. If carbon capture works (it’s technically and geographically possible, the doubt is cost) CCS should be promoted. A failure to do the research in the 1980’s was another of Maggie’s bad mistakes, this time perhaps allied to her war with the miners. Sadly, ‘clean coal’ is still part of the Tories hang ups. Carbon generators are still being promoted in the UK and world wide, without a precondition to install and retro fit CCS, and research into the technology has again stalled.

Green Party Opposes Fracking at Biscathorpe

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As part of our focus on energy this month we bring you a video from our lead Euro Candidate for East Midlands, Kat Boettge, as she campaigns against plans for oil extraction in a local area of outstanding natural beauty and community:

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/78459331″>Green Party opposes Biscathorpe oil drilling</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8205550″>Tony Youens</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>


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A Light on Energy

No to Fracking

This month East Midlands Green Party are focusing on the theme of energy. When I started writing this post, the street to which I’ve just moved went into blackout twice in one night. We stumbled over boxes to light candles. Being greenies, we had solar lights and a windup torch. I later found out that on the 13th of October the BBC reported the risk of blackouts this winter is higher than at any time over the past six years, according to the National Grid. Sitting in the dark we discussed, (along with things like how great one of our neighbours is and if he needs candles), the probability of power outages becoming more frequent and the effects on homes, businesses and public services. We don’t know our other neighbours yet, or those who might have troubles. We do know that the price of basic fuel often exceeds our own budget, along with an increasing number of others. We are lucky enough to be in paid employment, though my paid hours are few. Yet I know we are going to be cold and that this will effect my own physical capacity to work and live well, together with affecting my mood. Being constantly cold is not regularly associated with well-being. It does not help that there are so many others in similar or worse situations.

Under the present  insane system the priority is the pursuit of (short-term) profit rather than the meeting of human need or long-term solutions to the energy crisis. With Fuel Poverty on the rise and the cold winter  coming, charities such as Age UK are warning of associated fatal illness bought on by the cold which can and does result in the death of tens of thousands each year. Flu, asthma , chest infections, strokes, depression are some of the killers in the cold affecting low income households, including struggling families, infants, the elderly and those with disabilities. It affects us all as a society and as individuals. Within my circle of family and friends are those at risk. I am personally a high risk of complications  in cold spells due to my own health.

There is inefficiency and greed within an energy system based on polluting, wasteful extraction of resources that are becoming ever more scarce, or those which leave life-killing, cancer causing radioactive waste. Fracking manages both to be wasteful and polluting, destroying land and water. It is also radioactve.  One report citing some of the compelling research on this was by Douglas Main on October 3rd, for NBC News USA, where fracking is already in operation. Geochemistry and Water Quality Proffessor Avner Vengosh of Duke University stated levels of radium in fracking wastewater let out into rivers in Pennsylvania were ‘higher than those found in some radioactive waste dumps, and exceed the minimum threshold the federal government uses to qualify a disposal site as a radioactive dump site’ and that this will get into the food system on every level. The report by Main can be found at http://www.nbcnews.com/science/fracking-wastewater-contaminated-likely-radioactive-8C11323012. There is no promise to meet the energy needs of our communities. The industry is heavily subsidised by us through tax but comes with no health or environmental security.  It is no accident that fracking is banned in France, which will protect public safety and environment. It is also no accident that it is exempt from the clean water act in the USA, which is the only way it could be pushed forward.

Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, BBC News, reported on August 13th this year that ‘researchers from the University of Texas in Arlington found increased levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in the Barnett Shale, an area with around 16,000 active gas wells.’ A component in rat poison and famous in the classic film ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’, arsenic is one of the worlds most effective and vile poisons. In fracking the outmoded, wasteful, centralised energy production industry has come up with something that is more deathly and desperate than anything we have so far seen. It leaves water undrinkable, carrying cancer causing and other poisonous chemicals and radioactivity.

Humanity has become dependent on wasteful, polluting, inefficient and heavily subsidised fuel instead of investing in renewables which are infinite , the relevant technologies are largely clean and increasingly efficient.  Green Party policy states the immediate objective: To promote full use of currently available renewable energy sources for heat, electricity and transport and provide the necessary support for the relevant markets and industries to grow. Meanwhile our Green Energy Policy also states the aim: To reduce demand for fossil fuels as rapidly as possible by inducing industry, householders and the public sector to invest in energy conservation. Under the present coalition, with no real opposition from Labour, subsidies of millions are going into £Billion Oil Companies while investment in renewables has been pulled. The Big Oil industry has limited accountability and little interest in communities becoming more self-sufficient through localised energy production.

The efficiency of renewables is increased with localised energy generation, open to community co-ownership. Green Party Policy has long-term aims for a Green Economy with energy generation focused on combined renewables locally.  Our policy states: Energy would be generated, stored and distributed as close to the point of use as practicable, with maximum local control. Our policy has at its core a commitment to make energy production ‘fully accountable to the public sector‘. The fossil fuel industry, which itself should be fossilised, works on nationalised, centralised power structures and is becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. Much fuel is needed in the transportation of fuel in these systems, meaning more pollution, less power.

Increasing fuel poverty and power outages (blackouts) and the health and safety implications are the tip of a large iceberg we are being taken towards by those with the blinkered arrogance to believe we are somehow unsinkable.  Jarred Diamond,  in  ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive’ tracks the ancient societies that have fallen because humankind has misused, mismanaged and devalued water and soil and other natural, vital resources. He then links it to what we are doing in the post industrial ‘civilised’ world. Let’s not watch the titanic failure of inadequate energy policies destroy lives, futures, economies. The Green Party is the only political party in the UK with sustainable, workable energy policies.

There is something soulful in the scientific understanding that energy does not die, it chances to change. This is a holistic wisdom in the purest sense,  touching on the poetry of a ‘council of all beings’ and remaining true to both science of sustainable energy production and the lives and economies that rely on energy production being sustainable in every sense of the word.

I will end with this, the introduction to The Green Party’s comprehensive Energy Policy. To me, after the power cut, it is a light in the dark:

‘Our world is bathed in energy radiated from the sun, but is also provided with stocks of fossil fuels in which energy is locked up. Our economic development has taken us away from using sun, wind and water power to a technology dependent on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels represent natural capital. Industrialism has been committing the fundamental economic error of using capital as income. As E.F. Schumacher has pointed out, the wealth generated from the use of capital energy resources must be directed towards making ourselves independent of that type of resource.http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/en

Soundrack to changing energy policy:

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Boys on the Balcony – Seize the Day

If you Tolerate this – Manic Street Preachers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4qledBpbig

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHqFqSkHBqc

http://www.thenation.com/blog/160166/top-ten-antinuclear-songs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkCFronBCqs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg2gAbb0NuE

by Antonia Zenkevitch for The Green Party


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Fight Fracking Threat to Local Life in Lincolnshire Wolds

biscathorpe1
No to Fracking
A planning application to drill for oil at Biscathorpe has been made by Egdon Resources Ltd.  This company holds licenses to develop the gas-shales by fracking between Lincoln and Gainsborough, and in the North Somercotes area.
It is unlikely that many will know Biscathorpe.  It is an idyllic and unspoilt beauty spot in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds, with two fords crossing the River Bain, a lost medieval village and a picturesque church.
There is much concern about the consequences of drilling for oil in this area.  The impacts could include pollution of the river, damage caused by lorry traffic, noise and lighting, upsetting the fragile local ecology, and an end to the beauty and tranquillity of the neighbourhood.
Furthermore, following the recent IPCC report that there has already been enough oil and gas discovered to result in catastrophic global warming, there is the wider concern of additional oil exploitation in Lincolnshire.
On Sunday next, 13th October, a walk to Biscathorpe is being planned by the East Lincolnshire Green Party, at which all who might be concerned about this issue are welcome to join in.  Katarina Boettge, the Green Party’s East Midlands candidate for the European Parliament, will be participating.  Walkers are invited to meet at 12 noon on the green, Neve’s Garden, in Donington-on-Bain, for a stroll along the Viking Way to Biscathorpe for a picnic.  There and back, the walk is about three miles.  Sturdy footwear is advised, particularly if wet.
More information about the campaign to oppose the Biscathorpe oil well and to keep fracking out of Lincolnshire can be found at http://transitiontownlouth.org.uk/frack.html
Contact:  Maureen Barnett (01472 840674)


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Law of the Land

When we speak of ‘The Law of the Land’ this phrase has many meanings. We have different areas of law and justice. Last night I watched news footage of Caroline Lucas’s son being picked up by his ear by police as he sat in peaceful protest against fracking. I wondered how many kinds of justice were being undermined. There is criminal justice law and civil or social justice and the environmental laws there to help protect both us and the land. John Youatt, wrote a piece on fracking on the Derbyshire Green Party blog. He is a retired planner and former minerals officer and his arguments are informed and compelling. In the light of public arrests and ridicule this is a further response to fracking. This post regards the injustices we are suffering and the silencing of our campaign.  Some of these infringements of justice include:

  • Our legal and moral right to peaceful freedom of assembly
  • Environmental Protection Laws, with both EU and UK commitments undermined
  • Our legal and moral right to clean water
  • Our legal and moral right to clean air
  • Our democratic rights to be heard
  • Our right to heritage
  • Our right to jobs
  • Our right to question how tax payers money is spent

I must interject that the police are not always like this at demonstrations. Years ago at the largest ‘Stop the War’ march in London, police officers helped us get over barriers in an overcrowded area and gave directions and smiled. This blog piece is not anti-police but more broadly anti-injustice and pro democracy.

Many people are unaware what fracking is and there has been little or no public information. Fracking adds to ground water pollution, destruction of communities, destruction of natural habitats, destruction of human health. Fracking increases climate chaos and decreases potential job provision in jobs rich green energy. Our government is subsidising oil companies with millions for this destructive process, which speaks volumes about its lack of economic efficiency. This is unforgivable in the present economic and environmental climate. The total absence of any kind of opposition by the Labour Party is also unforgivable. Whilst the cost of green energy goes down as its effectiveness increases, the cost of fracking will increase as its effectiveness decreases and the damage it creates for humans and habitats grows.  In the UK we can boast some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world, with animals and vegetation and whole ecosystems dependent on a balance being broken. Those eco-systems include us. We need a healthy environment to live in too. We are breaking land and communities if we do not fight the frack.

We need to redefine our understanding of the word ‘criminal’ when people are led away for exercising their legal right of protest peacefully. We must question whether under such circumstances we are in a democracy or what another regional Green Party member termed a ‘mature oligarchy’; a carefully constricted ruling by the few.  We need to redefine our idea of how the law is used when environmental laws and human rights law are side-lined in order to push through an inadequate, wasteful and damaging energy program. We need to question our protectors of the peace when peaceful protest meets the brutality of protesters’ faces pushed into the ground or young men picked up by their ears. Yesterday there was criminality and there were arrests but it was not the criminals who were arrested.

This blog post urges you to join the peaceful but vocal fight against fracking. Support Caroline Lucas MP and The Green Party as the only political party challenging this insanity and short-termism.  You do not have to wear a rainbow jumper to protest. The threat of fracking affects us all, from all walks of life, our heritage, our health and our future.

FIGHT THE FRACK, JOIN THE GREEN PARTY – FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!


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The Wrong and the Right in Energy Policy

The following is the voice of our indomitable Mike Shipley in which he presents a Green Party vision of vital, workable, sustainable energy policy in alternative to the wasteful and socially and environmentally reckless government energy agenda which subsidizes and gives tax breaks to trillion pound Big Oil companies and under-funds renewable alternatives:

The Wrong and the Right in Energy Policy

The International Energy Agency has warned the world that by 2017, we will have a better than even chance of being locked in to a 2C rise in temperature.  This is a result of the investment decisions now being taken that will determine global energy infrastructure for the next 30 years or more. Unless someone, somewhere starts to make a serious commitment to the decarbonisation of  energy production, we will experience at least 2C of global warming by mid century and be on track for at least double this by century’s end.

Who will take that lead?  The International community, bought off by oil interests, have shelved any decision on cutting carbon emissions until 2020. This is too late to stop a 2C rise without truly massive emergency investment.  The British Government has also signalled that it has abandoned any pretence of showing leadership, with a policy portfolio dominated by private interests.  In his last budget statement George Osborne handed tax breaks to oil and gas companies to encourage a new round of exploration in the North Sea and to open the door to gas fracking.  Coupled with his slashing of feed in tariffs for renewables, his energy policy is to lock the UK into high carbon and increasingly expensive fuels for the next generation.  Even the pilot CCS project at Long Gannet in Scotland has been abandoned through lack of support by the private sector.

Osborne is always quick to point out that there isn’t the money available to radically change the UK energy infrastructure.  Oh yes there is.  The trouble it is in the hands of the big oil and gas companies and they won’t pay their taxes or even invest in the next generation of renewable fuels.  As a result of Osborne’s ill timed policy of giving tax breaks to the worlds richest companies, nearly £26 Billion will be invested in North Sea exploration 2011 – 2013.  This is the money that was desperately needed to invest in our sustainable energy future.  Of course the industry and Osborne herald this as good investment, generating jobs and tax revenue.  Except that the investment comes as a result of promise of taking less tax and the industry is globally shedding jobs.  This investment is about private wealth. The Scottish Government estimates that there is £1.5 trillion of oil to be won from the UK Continental Shelf, these companies are investing to get that wealth quickly, and they can only earn it if they burn the oil and release the carbon dioxide.  Osborne has slammed the door on 2C and opened the one marked 4+.  Thank you Gideon!

The oil companies have become untouchable, they sit on mountains of cash and are using it to enrich their shareholders and senior executives, they give vast sums to politicians and organisations that will look after their interests and promote climate change denial.  The top 5 oil companies, which include BP and Shell, made $1trillion in profits in the decade 2001-11.  In addition they receive public money as subsidies and tax breaks,  the richest of them all, Exxon-Mobil, pays a mere 18% tax rate.  If any finance minister has the nerve to demand a higher share of that profit to help a struggling local economy or to build national infrastructure, they pull out and go elsewhere.  This happened in the UK when Gordon Brown increased taxation on the oil sector, in response oil companies reduced output to reduce their tax liability until they got an oil friendly Chancellor.

All this new investment sends a clear signal to the financial markets that the safe place for money is in the fossil sector, Government support for renewables is lukewarm and hedged with uncertainty, therefore it is unattractive to investors, so it is starved of cash.  Investors want maximum and quick profits. The oil that will flow as a result of these tax breaks will be burned adding to the still rising levels of carbon dioxide. Yet as we know that 80% of existing oil reserves needs to remain unburned if we are to limit temperature rise to a level we can reasonably hope to afford to live with. With men like Osborne in control, delivering the policy demanded by Big Oil, that is not going to happen.

 But it doesn’t have to be like this.

At our Spring Conference, a draft policy paper for Energy was presented.  This policy shows how it would be possible to implement an energy strategy that addressed the real issues that are ignored by the Liberal Democrat Conservative Government.  It presents a strategy that enables the full decarbonisation of both energy and transport by mid centuryA strategy that will end fuel poverty, that will create sustainable business opportunities and skilled jobs, that will invest in research and the development of new technologies so creating significant export opportunities.  A strategy that will give the UK a long term affordable, reliable, sustainable and largely indigenous energy supply.  The Green Energy Strategy would turn the UK into a global showcase, demonstrating how a technology based civilised society can operate within the carbon budget required to cut carbon dioxide to a safe level of 350ppm.  Now wouldn’t that be a better policy option than making the richest companies and people in the world even richer while consigning us all to a very unstable and hazardous future?