This post originally appeared on postgrowth.org, I wrote it for the Post Growth Institute blog, and wanted to repost it here as well.
“Good jobs! Clean environment! Green economy!”
That is the rallying cry of the BlueGreen Alliance, an impressive coalition of environmental organisations and labour unions in the US, with over 15 million members. Their existence is part of a growing synthesis between the labour and environmental movements, which is based around two core ideas: 1), that building a sustainable society has the potential to create millions of decent ‘’green-collar’’ jobs, and 2), that the effects and even the mitigations of climate change will have serious impacts for workers and will hit the poorest hardest, unless they have a voice in the debate, ensuring their right to a ‘’just transition”. Continue reading
I’ve just finished reading This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by well-known Canadian environmentalist and writer Naomi Klein. It’s the best book I’ve read in ages.
Book cover. Creative Commons licensing.
This book doesn’t mess around. It bravely goes straight to the core. Continue reading
I already knew that national carbon accounting does not include the emissions embedded in imported goods. Those emissions are attributed to the country that produces the goods. Which is why many post-industrial countries can claim to have reduced emissions, while pointing accusing fingers at China and other emerging economies that now make all our stuff. What I didn’t know until Naomi Klein’s fantastic new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate enlightened me, is that the emissions from international shipping are not attributed to any country.
Massive container ship. Creative Commons copyright.
Hello lovely readers, I hope you’ve all been having a gorgeous festive time.
As 2014 draws to a close and the new bubba year is just a couple of days away, I’d like to take this opportunity to write about some of the big deals in sustainability from the last year, sustainability-related things I’ve been doing personally, and some of the things I’m eagerly and nervously awaiting from 2015. I think it’s going to be a big year.
This is a UK-centric post as that’s where I’m based. If you live in another country, please feel free to leave a comment telling me what the big sustainability news from your neck of the woods has been in 2014!
So on Tuesday, 23rd September 2014, the UN held a Climate Summit in New York, which was attended by over 100 heads of state and over 800 leaders from business, finance and civil society.
Not my image.
I wrote about the aims of the Summit a couple of weeks ago, but basically it was meant to galvanise political momentum towards the all-important COP-21 meeting in Paris 2015, where a global legally binding climate deal will finally be signed.
These world leaders descended on the UN headquarters just two days after over 600,000 people took part in the largest climate mobilisation in history – hailing from 155 different countries, but with an amazing 300,000 marching in New York.
The New York march. Not my image.
The Summit didn’t produce an agreement or decision. But that’s okay, because it wasn’t planning to. It wasn’t a negotiating session. It consisted of all the leaders giving small speeches, offering pledges and commitments for their country, or at least promising to do so before Paris 2015. Some of the pledges are exciting, but most of it appears to have been simple lip-service. However, the key thing is that the Summit (and the global People’s Climate March) has put climate change firmly back on the agenda. That seems to be what UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon had in mind, which explains why he described it on the website as a resounding success despite many of the national pledges being very vague. Continue reading
Today I went to London for the People’s Climate March, a global mobilisation of people demanding bold climate action, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York on Tuesday. Over 2,600 events took place around the world today, in 156 different countries.
Even just in terms of organisation and phenomenal use of social media and logistics, that’s a huge achievement. The fact that so many people, from all walks of life and all around the world, could be bothered to spend their Sunday marching and rallying for action on climate change is incredible.
It’s easy to think people don’t care much about this stuff. Apathy is evident everywhere. But today while I was marching in solidarity with thousands of strangers, waving placards and chanting our demand for clean energy, I felt such a sense of shared passion, energy and determination that it was almost overwhelming. Continue reading
Did you know there’s a UN Climate Summit in exactly one month?
I have to admit it slipped my mind, and I like to think of myself as in the environmental loop.
I’m not sure what the news coverage has been like in other countries, but in the UK it’s definitely been nowhere near the top of the agenda. I know this because preparations for my dissertation have seen me rifling through the top four serious newspapers of the land for the last couple of weeks. I was looking for articles on sustainable development, in order to analyse how the concept is construed in the news print media. And yet I barely found any.
I wasn’t too surprised. I though to myself, “oh well, what do you expect. Sustainability only comes into the news in a major way when there’s some big event, like the run-up to a UN summit or the aftermath of a natural disaster”.
Only the other night I realised it was the run-up to a big UN summit.
Not my image.
In dear David Cameron’s so called “reshuffle” of his cabinet, (in preparation for next year’s general election), he appears to have done what we previously thought impossible: made his party even more of a sick joke. Why am I being so harsh? Well, his new environment and energy ministers both oppose green energy. Continue reading
I just got home yesterday from a summer-time adventure.
I was working for Greenpeace at Glastonbury Festival. I can’t believe I haven’t written about the project sooner to be honest, but my life’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I finished the 2nd year of my degree at the beginning of last month.
Basically, me and my friend Lola won a competition, which was about designing innovative ways of communicating climate change and the plight of the Arctic. In our application we summarised three ideas, which were for igloos with sound and visual installations for various Arctic issues, a timeline of melting icebergs and a large bird’s eye view map of the Arctic. The prize was to actually come to the festival and build your designs. We didn’t hear back for ages, so I was pretty shocked when Lola rang me excitedly telling me we’d won. They wanted us to create the timeline idea, and said the igloos were cool but there wasn’t enough space for them.
Anyway, that was about two weeks before the day we were expected onsite, and we were asked to stay from 17th June to 2nd July. We had the actual festival weekend off, which was fantastic. Working on the decor team of the build crew was a lot of fun, and it was also hard work. It was baking hot all week, and I felt close to sunstroke on a couple of occasions, but somehow I managed to avoid coming home looking like a lobster.
We spent three days painting our timeline, which was very big and right at the front of the Greenpeace field, next to the giant replica of the Arctic Sunrise ship. The timeline showed two scenarios, one called ‘business as usual’ which depicted melting icebergs giving way to rising sea levels and open water filled with oil rigs and industrial fishing ships. The other was called ‘global sanctuary’ and showed ice and water levels stabilising and lots of Arctic wildlife and sealife. This was supposed to show the consequences of our collective actions, and to underline that we have a choice – the melting of the Arctic is not inevitable.
Our double timeline, photos by Lola Rose.
Yesterday I excitedly posted an article waxing lyrical about a new project to turn roads into solar-panel-covered roads that could generate all the clean energy the US needs if replicated nation-wide.
Solar cycle lane. Artist’s rendition by Katherine Simons.
Apologising for being cynical, one of my lovely environmentally-conscious friends commented that he didn’t think it was a practical idea, and directed me to this article that dismisses solar roadways as a wild fancy. Well, I think they have a couple of fair points, and a fair few not-so-valid points. Let’s walk through them. Continue reading