Tag Archives: solutions

Dutch citizens take their government to court for being useless on climate change – And win!!

Yesterday the supreme court of the Netherlands came to a historic landmark verdict: the Dutch government’s lack of strong climate change action was branded illegal.

Organised by the climate campaign group Urgenda, 886 Dutch citizens sued their own government for failing to act in line with climate science, and therefore endangering lives. The Hague ruling used existing human rights laws and tort law – a form of common law that every country has, that refers to the basic duty to avoid causing harm.

Campaigners celebrate the landmark verdict. Image from Urgenda, not mine.

Campaigners celebrate the landmark verdict. Image from Urgenda, not mine.

The judges said that based on existing policies, the country is set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels) at the very most – which was deemed unacceptable considering the severe risks of global climate change, the country’s status as an advanced and affluent state, and the flat and low-lying geography of the country that poses a significant flooding risk.

Yesterday’s ruling has ordered the Dutch Government to instead reduce emissions by at least 25% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. The verdict is legally binding, Continue reading

Six Types of Citizen Power

We all know power is very unequally distributed in  UK society, and this concentration of power at the top of the socio-economic ladder is much more extreme at the global level. Many places are ruled by completely unaccountable violent dictators and militias. I’m lucky to live in a liberal democracy. But just because other parts of the world are so much less fortunate, doesn’t mean we in Britain and the West should be content with the watered down versions of “democracy” that actually aren’t that democratic. Or liberal, for that matter.

I can’t speak for other countries that I haven’t experienced, but I know that in the UK although we have democracy, our politicians are not obliged to do what we want, nor what they promise to do. Most of them (especially the ruling Conservatives) appear to be much more interested with lining the pockets of their corporate chums and, indirectly, themselves.

Big Business gets to scrounge off the state constantly with tax breaks, unchallenged tax avoidance, direct subsidies and indirect subsidies such as topping up poverty wages with benefits – while the poorest are vilified to legitimise the speedy erosion of their rights. Austerity for the poor and socialism for the rich. The injustice of it all is breathtaking, to anyone who bothers to look.

I know, it’s a bleak picture. And it’s easy to understand why so many people in this country have become hopeless and apathetic. It’s easy to take a glance at the corruption, hypocrisy and deceit and decide that the elite is all-powerful and normal everyday citizens (who aren’t politicians and don’t run a big company or a big news outlet) are powerless.

It’s easy to see why you might think that, because that’s what the powerful want us to think. Citizen apathy is in their favour, big time.

But it’s not true.

Reclaim the streets and flex your citizen muscles. From San Francisco Art Institute, creative commons licensing.

Reclaim the streets and flex your citizen muscles. From San Francisco Art Institute, creative commons licensing.

Continue reading

Degrowth explained with orange juice. Yes, orange juice.

So I came across this super cute 4-minute video from Grist which explains the concept of degrowth using the analogy of a stall selling class A delicious orange juice. I think you’ll like it, and it’s especially good if you’re new to the idea.

As far as I’m aware the degrowth concept stems largely from the work of ecological economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (among others) and is now a full blown international movement. Apart from specifying that advanced economies need to contract rather than just stop growing, it seems to be little different to the idea of post-growth and exhorts many of the same solutions and attitudes.

Aw man I really want some sweet OJ now…

Energy Democracy

Here’s a really cool short video I found on Films for Action about the energy revolution we so desperately need and deserve – a democratised renewable energy system designed to meet all our energy needs sustainably rather than just make a few corporations obscenely rich. And that includes the billion people currently living without power. Give it a watch!

Also – I apologise for my lack of posting recently. I’m two and half months away from finishing my degree, I’m working voluntarily for the Post Growth Institute and the UK’s Green Party and I have a job as a waitress as well. I’m just a bit busy basically. I have loads of ideas I’m dying to put into words though. Come June I’ll be back on to regular blogging.

Much love!

Post Growth Institute

postgrowth
Okay, so I may have been slacking on my blogging lately, but I’ve been crazy busy in the rest of my life. My dissertation and other university coursework is taking up a lot of time, and I’ve been volunteering with my local Green Party each week, campaigning to get our Green MP re-elected. But the most exciting reason why I’m extra busy, is that I’ve become a core member of the Post Growth Institute.

If you haven’t heard me mention them before, they’re an international group exploring how we can chart a course to a shared sustainable prosperity beyond our addiction to growth-mania.  Continue reading

Not-for-profit enterprise: A talk

So last week I was waxing lyrical about this talk I was about to go to, called “Is the post-growth economy already here?” by Donnie Maclurcan, from the Post Growth Institute. It was part of a UK-wide speaking tour, in promotion for a new book (How, On Earth?) by Donnie and one of the co-directors of the Institute, Jennifer Hinton.

The cover of How, on Earth?

The cover of ‘How, on Earth?’

So I went to the talk, and I really enjoyed it. Let me walk you through some of the key points, and the bits I thought were most exciting. You can also read the blurb for the talk, for some background, here.

Near the start of the talk, Donnie Maclurcan stated that we have two major global crises, which are completely interconnected.

One is the ecological crisis. The fact that each year we’re now using more resources than can be replenished, and creating more waste than can be assimilated. This is leading to widespread species loss, dangerous climate change, land degradation and the rest. As he’s the executive director of the Post Growth Institute it’s not surprising he doesn’t believe in the fantasy story of infinite economic growth.

The other crisis is spiralling financial inequality. He quoted the well-publicised but ever sickening statistic from Oxfam, that the world’s richest 85 people have the same combined wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion*.

The two are connected because rising inequality leads to over-consumption, through status envy and competition. And in a neoliberal economy where growth is prioritized above all else, consumption will be tightly culturally linked with the idea of success.  Because that’s what’s needed to keep the growth engine going.

Anyway, Maclurcan thinks the solution to the two problems is not loads of regulation, nor flashy brands of ‘creative capitalism’, but not-for-profit enterpriseContinue reading

How, on Earth?

I’m very much looking forward to attending a talk this Thursday, entitled Is the Post Growth economy already here? By Donnie Maclurcan, executive director of the Post Growth Institute. He’s coming to my city as part of a UK-wide tour promoting a new book he’s co-writing with Jennifer Hinton, co-director of the same Institute.

Cover of the forthcoming book

Cover of the forthcoming book

This book is called How, on Earth? Flourishing in a not-for-profit world by 2050, and will be published in April next year. You can pre-order it here. The book centres around the concept of the not-for-profit enterprise, which earns money to pay for its resources and to pay all employees a fair wage, but reinvests any profits straight back into its social cause, or into improving the enterprise, rather than letting them accrue to shareholders.

If you fail to see how a profit-less model could possibly be a good thing, you might need a bit of background. Continue reading

Universal Citizen’s Income

Have you heard of the universal citizen’s income?

Otherwise known as universal basic income, it refers to this (so far) theoretical policy where every citizen in a country is given enough money to cover their basic needs. It doesn’t matter if they’re working or not, how much they earn, what their health status is, – as long as they’re an adult and a national citizen, they get the same amount. Everyone does.

Do you think it sounds crazy? I kind of do too. But this article by the ever knowledgeable Another Angry Voice has made me doubt my initial incredulousness.  Continue reading

Skeptical of Solar Roadways?

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. Artists rendition by Katherine Simons.

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

The coconut oil I now use.  My photo.

Coconut Makeup Remover

I’ve been wearing makeup since my early teens, and this has sadly involved wiping my eyes with harsh chemicals every night so my eyelashes don’t fall off as I toss and turn in my sleepy time.

It’s very bad for you to forgo removing your makeup at the end of the day. But I’ve also always been casually concerned about the makeup removers and how toxic they’re likely to be. One time a few weeks ago I used a new type of remover and instantly got an unpleasant rash all over my face. My mum was visiting at the time, and she offered to try making me a natural makeup remover (she’s a medical herbalist and is experimenting with making natural beauty products). I scoffed that it couldn’t be done, because the makeup itself is full of chemicals so even more are needed to remove it. I switched to a different brand and the skin rash gradually subsided.  Continue reading