Environmentalists and green activists in Norwich have been coming together to discuss ways in which the city could address climate breakdown, and how, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city could ‘build back better’. Green New Deal UK’s Norwich hub is part of a nationwide network of groups hoping to combat climate breakdown. Describing a Green New Deal (GND) as ‘our map for a future worth fighting for’, they have five key goals they hope to achieve within the next decade, which they describe as ‘a fork in the road for humanity’.
By Sean Meleady
Norfolk people are rightly proud of the beautiful countryside and unique habitats which attract many tourists to the county. However, Norfolk’s environment and ecological sustainability are threatened by two planned developments located just outside Norwich: the Norwich Western Link road and a proposed new housing development near Thorpe St Andrew which threatens three local woodlands.
By Lewis Martin
Content warning: mentions transphobia
As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.
A massive issue facing the UK at the moment is right under our noses and indeed right under our feet. That issue is land. Though land injustice may stem from historical legislation such as the Enclosure Acts and the shrinking of the commons through large-scale land grabs over past centuries, the phenomenon continues today, with land inequality becoming ever-increasingly stark. Land is moving more and more from public control into wealthy private hands, with land and housing prices rocketing over recent decades as a result of speculative inflation. In 1995 the total value of land in the UK was around £1 trillion, that figure is now more than £5 trillion.
“Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.”
The climate emergency is becoming increasingly obvious, with weather events wreaking havoc both near and far. Increasingly uncontrollable and expansive fires continue to burn across many global regions. Heavy rains have brought flooding, endangering small communities. Droughts dry out forests and land, leaving livestock and livelihoods at risk. The demands of human society are taking their toll. Yet even as climate change finally takes its place at the top of the agenda for many countries, those who are the worst carbon emitters continue to fail in their duty to protect their citizens. Economy remains the priority for government domestic policies across the Western world and beyond.
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.
by Lotty Clare
Back in August much of the Asia Pacific region, and the world, was captivated by the death of a baby dugong called Mariam. Washed up on the beach in southwestern Thailand, the ill and orphaned dugong gained the attention of the public, complete with live webcasts, only for her to die a few months later due to plastic poisoning.
In a stark contrast to the depictions of idyllic white-sanded Thai beaches, this story seems to have captured the hearts of many and has added momentum to the growing anti-plastic movement in Thailand and the Asia Pacific region.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and humanity’s plastic production is expected to grow over the coming decades. Plastic is now in the deepest parts of the ocean, in our food, in our bodies, even our water and air. 8 million tonnes of the stuff is estimated to end up in the ocean every single year, an amount set to double by 2030. By 2025, there will be one tonne of plastic for every tonne of fish in our oceans.
by Lotty Clare
The environmental and climatic impacts of war and conflict have long been silent causalities. Environmental implications throughout the timelines of conflict are huge. From deforestation, mining for metals, use of chemical weapons, ‘scorched’ earth tactics, plunder of resources, and collapse of environmental management systems. Natural resources can cause war, fuel war, and be destroyed by war.
by Lotty Clare
We are all actors in a global hegemonic food and agricultural system that is increasingly undemocratic, unjust, and dominated by corporate interest in the hands of a rich minority. Part 1 explored how this has happened and the impacts of power concentration and intensification of agriculture globally. Much of the food we buy from supermarkets is packaged in plastic, , and has thousands air-miles attached to it as it has often been shipped across the world before reaching our trollies. The public has lost a connection to the land and lacks any kind of relationship to where its food comes from, and how it is grown, and indeed there is a great deal of ignorance around food production, nutrition, storage and even cooking. Sadly, it is ultimately the poorest and more marginalised people in society who are impacted the most by food poverty, having to buy and consume cheap food with poor nutritional value. Amidst rising levels of food poverty in the UK, we also have vast amounts of food waste on a household and commercial level, as about ⅓ of food is wasted.
by Sean Meleady
Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.
by Lotty Clare
Land is a topic that is not at the centre of political news or conversations in the UK, yet land and how we value it is central to environmental, social and economic sustainability worldwide. Land is central to food security, culture, conflict and peace, and society as a whole. Food is a human right, and yet it is a commodity privy to the powers of the market, and not guaranteed for many people. Power is concentrated in the hands of a few mega corporations who monopolise global agriculture and food systems.
by Craig Adlard
This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.
by Cristina Flores
Hugo Blanco – famously described by Latin American literary giant Eduardo Galeano as a man who was born twice. His first birth was in 1934, and he spent his early years living as a white boy in Cusco, a city where indigenous people were not allowed to walk on the pavement. Unphased by his skin colour, Hugo would play in the streets with his friends, speaking the local language of Quechua. Hugo Blanco’s second birth was at the age of ten. Upon hearing of a local landowner branding the skin of one of the peasants with his initials, Hugo Blanco, the ardent revolutionary was born. Such early consciousness of social injustice still fuels the man today, as I found out on the 27th February when I was lucky enough to attend an evening with Hugo, as part of the promotion of Derek Wall’s latest book, “Hugo Blanco – a revolutionary for life.” As a social activist myself, I was intrigued by what lessons could be learnt from a 20th century revolutionary legend.
by Lotty Clare
In 2017 when the United States, the world’s second biggest polluter, withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord it felt hugely demoralising, but unsurprising. Unsurprising because for years some climate activists have been disillusioned with the notion of a top-down political solution to climate change because it is the political and economic elites who have been the architects of this economic and climate crisis, and who benefit from the current capitalist, neoliberal system. However, newly elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (otherwise known as AOC) has challenged this view. The ‘Green New Deal’ (GND) being proposed by democrats, spearheaded by AOC, and backed by grassroot groups, is a welcome dose of hope and progress that has been injected into an otherwise gloomy mainstream discourse around the fate of our planet.
By Paul Lievens, Banana Link Communications Officer
Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or 100 bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment.
by Jess O’Dwyer
The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her (and our) oblivion. Extreme weather is the new normal: we’re chopping down trees faster than we’re planting them and we’re still burning fossil fuels despite the common knowledge that they are damaging to the atmosphere and are causing our own children to struggle to breathe.
By Laura Potts
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
by Stu Lucy
For the best part of the tail end of the twentieth century, rich countries in various guises have lent considerable sums to leaders of African countries, elected or otherwise, in order that they ‘develop their infrastructure’. Over the years numerous heads of state have accepted these tempting offers, skimming a little off the top for themselves and their cronies, leaving the rest to fulfil some grand construction touted by politicians as intrinsic to ensuring the economic success and prosperity of their beloved country.
Home to the source of the river Nile, Uganda has had its fair share of such development projects, most commonly in the form of hydroelectric dams. Since construction of the Owen Falls dam, the first to harness the power of the mighty river built under colonial rule in 1954, numerous other power stations have been constructed with help from international lenders such as The World Bank, alongside numerous import-export banks of countries set to profit from the dam’s construction.
The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.
However, should we be surprised by these events?
by Stu Lucy
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.
By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation
In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.
by Stu Lucy
Immigration is a complex concept., Sophisticated issues such as this are often reduced to simplistic and narrow trails of thought that exclude some of the intricacies vital in understanding the true scope of the issue. In my previous article, I attempted a brief, but lengthy, outline of aspects of economic history that I believe laid a foundation for the increase in migrants choosing to leave their home behind in search of a life they perceive could potentially produce prosperity. Intrinsically entwined into this history is a mechanism of production that, since the ‘great acceleration’, significantly contributes to environmental changes within our global habitat.
It is through this lens that I wish to proceed with this second piece on immigration, as I touch on a demographic within migrant populations forced from their homes by climate change.
China has been the subject of environmental scrutiny for years now. It remains the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has horrendously high levels of air pollution, and still uses coal fired power stations to generate its electricity. 2018, however, seems to be welcoming the beginning of change for the country. International media has reported on new environmental protection laws, policies and bans, as China attempts to turn a new leaf. For better or worse, China is the world’s largest player in our changing climate, and how this change plays out out in the coming decades rests largely on their shoulders.
The question must be asked though: Is China really pushing for a safer future, and pioneering a nation-wide effort to combat global warming? Or is it just a master greenwasher, in a bid to sell itself as a bastion for modernity and progress?
A figure which always captures my attention at the end of each year is the number of environment and land defender murders that have taken place over those past dozen months.
2016 was bloody. 200 people lost their lives that year while protecting their land and natural resources. The Guardian and Global Witness have estimated that last year, in 2017, there were 185 such deaths. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, these figures are always underestimations, as in reality far more deaths occur over land and environmental struggles than get reported.
As the country with the third highest environmental defender death toll globally (beneath Brazil and Colombia), the Philippines continues to have the highest environmental activist death toll for any Asian country. The archipelago of over 7,000 islands is seen to be one of South East Asia’s booming economies. But what will 2018 bring with regard to the country’s piss poor human rights and all too frequent environmental killings?
On December 4th Trump signed proclamations to shrink two U.S. national monuments in Utah. Bears Ears National Monument is to be squeezed from 1.5m to 228,784 acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from 2m to 1,006,341 acres. Unremarkably, this decision has sparked a backlash from various groups. It is a textbook debate on who possesses the rights to the land, and is one of many such disputes in which the environment itself is all too often overlooked.
National monuments in the U.S. are granted their status by the President under the 1906 Antiquities Act, drafted to protect sites of natural, cultural or scientific interest. In his statement, Trump argued that previous administrations have used this law to “lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control” and that “public lands will once again be for public use”.
by Lewis Martin
If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.
by Laura Potts
Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.
By Olivia Hanks
What happens if a member state of the European Union refuses to comply with a European Court ruling? Incredibly, the answer is that nobody knows: it has never happened, though financial sanctions including the withdrawal of all subsidies are theoretically possible. But following Poland’s open defiance of an ECJ order to cease logging in the ancient Białowieża forest, suspicions that the EU is essentially toothless when it comes to law enforcement are about to be tested like never before.
by Joe Burns
Radioactive waste is the solid, liquid, or gaseous waste produced by nuclear power stations, fuel production, weapons manufacturing and nuclear plant decommissioning. Small volumes of radioactive waste products are also created by industrial, research and medical institutions.
This waste has been constantly produced in this country since the 1950s, and the debate about what to do with the radioactive waste products from military, civil, medical, and scientific uses has caused frustration and fear for an equally long time.
by Laura Potts
CW: Mentions violence against children
More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.
I never thought I’d start off a serious article by writing about talking during sex, but here we are. It’s a slightly awkward subject, and one that the world of comedy is not afraid to touch upon. Specifically, I’m referring to everyone’s favourite fictional radio presenter, Alan Partridge, who is no stranger to the delicate topic of conversations mid-intercourse. I’m Alan Partridge brought to British comedy a very memorable line, during a less than steamy sex scene, in which Alan asks his partner just what she thinks of the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre.
Aside from being a line used as a sure-fire way to detect a fellow Partridge fan, those outside of Norwich may not realise that we recently celebrated fifty years since the first high street in the city became pedestrianised, and that the debate around the motorist vs pedestrian issue continues to rage on. It is very much to this day – as Alan himself would say – a ‘hot topic’.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: torture, rape, political violence
Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.
Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.
The Amazon contains just over half of the world’s remaining rainforest. Home to some 390 billion trees, one in ten living plant and animal species and annually absorbing approximately 1.5 gigaton of carbon dioxide, this rainforest is one of the last few significant land carbon sinks. The effects of climate change were demonstrated when the Amazon briefly lost its ability to absorb carbon dioxide during severe droughts in 2005 and 2010.
The Amazon has long been a poster-child for the environmental movement and its importance has never ceased, although other causes have taken some of the coverage and media interest away. The time has come to refocus on the Amazon before the damage becomes irreparable. The consequences of losing it would be globally catastrophic.
by Laura Potts
We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.
by the UEA Young Greens
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
On June the 8th the country will head to the polls for Mrs May’s snap election. This election has been called because, in a remarkable display of hubris, May and her Tory cohort expect to win a huge majority so she can continue to pursue her campaign of cuts whilst also pushing for a Hard Brexit. If they’re right, the future looks rather grim.
by Laura Potts
In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.
The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.
by Hugh Lanham, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich North
I would not have stood as a candidate in this election if I wasn’t angry.
I am angry about Brexit
I see real fear and uncertainty in people affected by Brexit. Those working in foreign countries, those selling their goods and services throughout the Union and those whose prospects are just ripped from them by an unknown future. I see real costs for all ordinary people from the devaluation of the pound, from inflation eroding people’s savings and spending power.
Most of all, I see few benefits from Brexit for anyone. There is, of course, no £350m for the NHS and, apart from ‘sovereignty’ which means we have all the same laws but with a picture of a crown on top, one of the most significant immediate changes is a bill of £100bn. But, I believe the Tories are going to blunder on regardless.
If we ever get the opportunity to reverse the decision to leave the European Union I would vote in support of that.
By Olivia Hanks
There were inspiring stories from Green parties all around the world at the Global Greens congress in Liverpool, but arguably one of the most uplifting came from Isabella Lövin. The Swedish Green Party spokesperson has been minister for international development cooperation since her party entered government in coalition with the Social Democrats in October 2014.
Lövin recounted how, despite being by far the junior partner in the coalition (25 seats in parliament to the Social Democrats’ 113), the Greens have brought about numerous changes in policy: “We have put forward a climate law obliging all future governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2045,” she told delegates. “We also have a broad cross-party agreement to have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. And, mind you – without nuclear power!”
By Laura Potts
As spring approaches, so do the grasping hands of Easter and the shelves full of egg-shaped chocolate treats, in a hundred sizes and colours. But the main thing I notice as I walk through the supermarket is the quantity of packaging that comes with them. Each egg is sealed in plastic and stored in a cardboard box, and most come with other individually wrapped chocolates. The brightly coloured decorations upon the eggs and boxes are reminiscent of nature and the beautiful colours of spring.
The great irony, of course, is that the packaging boasting this decoration directly contributes to the destruction of that natural beauty. Through this attitude to resources, companies are investing in a ‘throw away society’, and future generations will have to carry the burden.
by Rowan Gavin
I was recently excited to hear of a new module being run in the Politics department at UEA next academic year entitled ‘Activist Campaigning’. Module convenor Dr Ben Little was good enough to let me interview him about the course, its history, and his hopes for its future at UEA.
The Norwich Radical contacted all candidates in this year’s UEA Students Union officer elections for comment on why they’re running and what they stand for. These articles are intended to offer an insight into the current and future state of the union and of the UEA more broadly.
UEA Students can vote at uea.su/ueavotes until Tuesday March 21st.
The Republican Party’s war on the environment has begun in earnest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers have . The . Republican senators have introduced a bill to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. The using the Congressional Review Act. The . The . Trump has promised to disband the Clean Power Act and the EPA website has removed all pages relating to climate change. Trump’s America First Energy Plan and, although the initial plan to has been withdrawn, proposals have been put forward to transfer federal land to state control. In the UK, the government is pushing forward with the intention to and even more. A report by the Energy and Climate Committee has predicted that the UK will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. The led to its operations being transferred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, casting doubt of the ability to prioritise the environment over business.
by Tara Debra G
By the time you are reading this, Trump will be president of the United States. Soon Scott Pruitt will be head of the EPA (or behead the EPA). As I’m writing this, Obama is singing his swan song and making his final goodbyes as President. The gulf of time between me writing and you reading is small but salient. It is the time to reflect upon what it is Obama leaves in his wake. Contradiction has characterized so many aspects of Obama’s presidency, but what of his environmental record? Well – it’s complicated.
The election of Donald Trump and the result of the Brexit referendum have thrown the prospect of a greener future into doubt. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and promise to boost the ailing US coal industry overshadow the current surge in renewable energy. The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been attacked amid fears of asset-stripping.
Social media is full of individuals and climate groups recoiling in horror at the potential of such actions pushing back the advancement of environmental progress. Many are counting down the days until Trump’s inauguration and the eradication of environmental regulations that is predicted to follow. Yet is the future really as bleak as many would have us believe?
It’s high time we talked about our future. Forget about border control or the free market, they offer no insight. If we want this tumultuous, divisive year to mean something, we need to think bigger, bolder and shape our decisions around our vision. Let’s talk about an end to the draconian sweatshop conditions, imposed by the likes of Sports Direct, who have exploited free movement of labour to keep profits high and wages low. Immigration control is a quick fix and a distraction. They will always find a way to exploit and profit. What if instead we did away with these common low-skilled low-wage jobs, altogether. What if we put our faith in British industry again, but instead of labourers going down into the stuffy pits, lining their lungs with coal dust, they were breathing the cool, crisp air on the surface on a wind farm. I am talking about creating a thriving, prosperous renewable energy industry.
Since moving into my own place in the beautiful city of Córdoba, I’ve realised how important the aesthetics of our environment are to our well-being. Both inside and outside of the home, I feel uplifted, and can meditate on the simple pleasures of my surroundings. So for many Spanish people, the news that street names are being changed is a lot bigger than it might seem on the surface.
Franco’s dictatorship is an all-too-present memory, which I learnt more about when speaking to my abuelito, my paternal grandfather, about it. It divided the family, and although a majority of Spain looks back on this time with regret and sadness, there are some who still support his legacy. At such times where we are becoming more divided, and dominant groups increasingly scapegoat, discriminate against, and oppress minorities, perhaps this is an important message from a government which is currently in disorder.
by Olivia Hanks
The graph that emerged recently showing the unprecedented fall in global sea ice coverage was a chilling sight for many. Not, though, for Labour MEP David Martin, author of a European Committee on International Trade document celebrating climate change as creating new opportunities for the economic development of the Arctic”.
The comment, spotted and lambasted by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, might seem extreme in its suicidal logic: we’re burning down the house, but look, we can use the newly exposed rafters for more firewood!
By Lewis Martin of People and Planet UEA
This week saw People and Planet’s annual University League table released. For some universities this has been a cause for celebration – Nottingham Trent, for example, have climbed to the top of the table. However, for UEA and its students the league’s findings should be a cause for concern. Since last year Norwich’s biggest university has dropped 14 places from 34 to 48 in the table, losing 13 points in the process. This is the inevitable result of the way the university has behaved in the last year with regards to various environmental issues.
by Olivia Hanks
The green movement is a tough place to be right now. With the Conservative government announcing another environmentally disastrous policy just about every week, from Hinkley to Heathrow via fracking in Lancashire, cuts to renewables and planning deregulation, activists could be forgiven for feeling a bit despondent. But Adrian Ramsay, CEO of the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), is philosophical when I ask if morale has been hit by this wave of irresponsible policy-making.
by Liam Hawkes
For many who choose to ascribe to it, environmentalism is a clear moral question. We have a moral responsibility to care for and not abuse our planet. This is possibly one of the most common and important aspects to any environmentalism as it provides a motivation for action. Not just sitting comfortably saying we should do things, but actually getting out there into the world and doing them. This active engagement with nature and the environments around us goes much of the way to ground environmentalism in the practical, not theoretical. This is why our own individual understandings of what and where nature is can be the key to unlocking the inner tree hugger in us all.
by Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer
Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory
When I was in Grade 2, I recall my teacher telling us a legend in class that I would hear many times later in my life. It was about this boy who lived long ago in a Kanien’kehá:ka village. While exploring around the river’s edge, he noticed two shiny things in the water. When he picked them up he discovered they were serpents – one gold and one silver. The serpents were barely alive and the boy returned home with them and nursed them back to health.
In time these serpents became healthy again and began to grow larger and larger. And as they grew, so did their appetites. The boy could no longer feed them enough so they began to consume the village’s food. The people of the village attempted to cast out the beasts, but by this point they had become too large to control and the serpents began to attack and consume the people of the village. Soon, the two serpents began to attack and plunder other villages. The people fled and made their way to the mountains. Pursuing the people, the two serpents smashed into mountains, poisoned the rivers, and ravished the earth.
by Sam Naylor
From the 8 – 24th of August I attended a Generation UK – India programme. The fortnight programme was organised between the British Council and the University of Kerala, which was founded in 1937, to engage 46 British students and graduates with a taste of Contemporary India: Culture and Society. The study placement covered a lot of ground, ranging from a lecture on Indian foreign policy to visiting their ancient manuscript library, to learning the state language of Malayalam and gendering Indian popular cinema. The course’s content was as diverse as the state we were studying in and the people who attended the study trip.
by Amelia Womack
Like almost half of the country, I woke up pretty devastated on June 24th. It’s now been a month since the result was announced, and we’re only just beginning to get hints of the ramifications – whether it’s the collapse in funding to research, or the threat of EU nationals here potentially being kicked out as they’re used as a bargaining chip for the Brexit negotiations.
by Simon Ashley Cross
Never was it more important to have common sense for the common good in politics. The Green Party is having it’s biannual leadership contest and very much against the grain of the unscheduled bun fights of the other large parties there is no infighting, no bullying and no bricks thrown. The party will continue to respect our members and offer them a fair choice.
By Clive Lord
I almost invented the Green Party. Well, I only re-invented it a few months after it had been founded circa Christmas 1972. I attended a meeting as an enquirer in March 1973, at which I agreed with every word of the four actual founder members: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had just published Limits to Growth, which explained that indiscriminate economic growth could not go on for ever on a finite planet. It got one important fact wrong, and missed one other, but the gist was and is correct, and according to the latest research by James Hansen, could be coming home to roost sooner than expected.
by Kat Boettge
Whatever the future holds we must work together for unity. After this dreadful referendum and the Brexit vote we must all pull together. The country appears divided, the young vs the older generations, the north vs the south, the “leavers” vs “remainers”. Such divisions, promoted by the wealthy and powerful, have helped them to avoid responsibility for their economic crimes and allowed the 1% to prosper at the expense of the 99%. Meanwhile the left is facing turmoil.
by David Malone
We need to have a serious debate in the party, first and foremost, about finance and economics. It seems to me that one of the defining facts of our times is that around the world the established political parties have surrendered to the idea that economics and finance no longer need to be under democratic control. This is wrong and dangerous.
by George Laver
With the recent news that the Swedish government has backtracked on its pledges at the Paris climate agreement by selling off state-owned coal assets to private buyers EPH, now is a better time than ever to ask: when is it enough?
It should come as no surprise that governments will betray the public façade of agreement on positive terms. Such is the cycle of history. I am thinking, in particular, of the Paris Agreement that took place just last year. Not yet past its stage of infancy, and already it has been shot in the back. The selling off of a lucrative coal asset to private industrial proprietors has set a clear line for where their favour lies and where the climate — which has recently passed a dire milestone — sits in the rank of importance.
This agreement, climate scientists from Stockholm University have warned, will violate the terms of the Paris Agreement. Even so, it is not as if it can be claimed that the Swedish government has worked around loopholes in the agreement. At least if this were the case, with all technicalities applied, the government would not be violating the agreement — that is not to say that they would not be violating climate integrity. But even so, the case as it exists is one of straight up betrayal — and who else could we expect it from?
by Josh Wilson
For all those who voted and campaigned to leave the European Union I would like say congratulations, we may have had a difference of opinion but that shouldn’t leave any animosity between us. For all of those that voted and campaigned to remain within the EU, like myself, it is okay to cry. It is okay to feel upset, angry and disappointed. It is not easy to let go of something you believed in so passionately. The future is scary; it is uncertain what direction the country will now head in, whether we will enter into another period of recession and who our next Prime Minister will be now David Cameron has said he will resign. But this is exactly why we must come to terms with the fact that Brexit is going to happen, and the fight has only just begun.
The referendum was largely fought between different sides of the right-wing of British politics, but the opportunity now lies with the Left. I truly believe everyone on the Left, whatever your party affiliation and which ever way you voted must unite and galvanise around a campaign for a progressive exit from the EU. This view was recently aired by Paul Mason in the Guardian, although in fear of being a hipster, I thought of this before it was ‘cool’ (You can read Paul’s more eloquent article here). In this article I want to cover another angle and lay out some of the biggest battles that are going to be thrown our way in the very near future.
by Rowan Gavin
With just four days until polling day, the EU referendum continues to dominate news headlines and pub conversations. Like many, I have been exhausted by the fearmongering, unconvincing and generally depressing arguments churned out by the mainstream campaigns on both sides. So when The Norwich Radical asked me to interview Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, about the positive Green case for staying in the EU, I was excited to hear some refreshing ideas on the topic. I also got the chance to speak to David Raby, a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich.
In March this year the Evening News reported that Generation Park Norwich (GPN) had run out of money, leaving its backers (Norwich (NPH) LLP) with debts of £3M. The ‘green’ credentials of UEA, the leading advocate of the scheme, had been further undermined by the complete failure of their own biomass project, at a cost of £10M, and were first reported in the Norwich Radical in August 2015.
Norwich City Council (NCC) seemed to be back to square one after spending 12 years and £700k of public funds trying to come up with a viable use for the Utilities Site, to the east of the city centre. To quote Clive Lewis, the Norwich South MP, the whole scheme seemed to be ‘dead in the water’ before it had even got off the drawing board.
Yet now, like a phoenix from the incinerator’s ashes, it has miraculously risen again; ‘mysterious’ new backers have emerged, and things are back on track for the planning application to finally be heard in July or August. How is it that proposals which have been dogged by controversy, bankruptcy and delay refuse to die? Are there reasons why Generation Park Norwich (GPN) is just too big to fail?
by Zoe Harding
TW: Sexual assault
On the 22nd of May, the Oasis-class cruise ship Harmony of the Seas set sail from Southampton docks on its first commercial voyage. The world’s largest cruise ship, the Harmony is owned by Royal Caribbean and can carry up to 5,400 passengers as well as 2,100 crew. The ship will be sailing on various European cruise routes until October, when it moves to the Caribbean for the winter. The vessel resembles a block of brutalist flats with a pointy bit at the front, and rooms can cost up to £3,000 for a seven-day cruise. The industry boomed in the early 2010s and is still going, with over around 22.5 million passengers carried worldwide in 2015 at a profit of somewhere around $39.6 billion.
Saturday. 9:30pm. I’m sitting cross-legged on the grass of Chapelfield Gardens, and all around me the Garden Party is still going strong. The Adnams Spiegeltent is a roar of chatter and noise, and beside it a large mechanical dragon — rather charmingly named Elsie — turns the air orange with the glow from her flamethrower-covered body. I’m not here for either of those events, great though they were. I’m here for Pedal-Powered Car Chase, a fifteen-minute performance involving inventive live music, a handful of plucky volunteers, and some exercise in the name of making us think.
by Olivia Hanks
The news that Boris Johnson buried a report on air pollution around schools while mayor of London does not exactly come as a surprise. Johnson’s record on air quality was atrocious – despite widespread concern over the issue throughout his eight years as mayor, virtually nothing has been done to alleviate what the World Health Organisation has called a public health crisis. The Campaign for Clean Air in London and the Environmental Audit Committee have been highly critical of Johnson for his inaction. And although London is the worst offender, many UK cities are in breach of EU laws on pollution, with little sign that the problem is being taken sufficiently seriously. Castle Meadow in Norwich has recorded nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels above EU legal limits every year since 2007 – a situation which Bert Bremner, the Labour city councillor with responsibility for environmental issues, described in a BBC Look East interview (interview starts at 4:31) earlier this year as “not dangerous […] the reality is what you feel when you’re there”. This, replicated across the UK, is the attitude that has led to inertia on this issue for so long – the ‘my grandma smoked 80 a day and she lived to 102’ school of argument.
by Olivia Hanks
The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.
The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.
by Dorothee Häussermann
Last August, more than 1000 people rushed into one of Germany’s biggest open-cast lignite mines and stopped mining operations for a day. This action of civil disobedience went under the slogan ‘Ende Gelände — stop the diggers — protect the climate’; ‘Ende Gelände’ translates as ‘here and no further’. The campaign called for an immediate coal phase-out, emphasizing the urgency for DIY solutions to the climate crisis in the face of governmental inaction.
What is the problem? Isn’t Germany the paragon of energy transition? Aren’t ecologists and economists alike inspired by progressive policies such as the feed-in tariff that supported the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources? Even Naomi Klein’s film This Changes Everything depicts the German ‘Energiewende’ as a way to go forward. So what are these activists complaining about?
“The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity I am vulnerable…when they want to kill me, they will do it.”
Berta Cáceres (2013)
In the early hours of Thursday 3rd March 2016 in La Esperanza, Honduras, an unknown number of assailants broke into the house of environmental and human rights campaigner Berta Cáceres and killed her. The only witness to the crime, Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican national, has been denied permission to leave the country with a 30-day immigration alert put in place against him. According to Global Witness, at least 109 people have been killed between 2010 and 2015 in Honduras, all with links to campaigns against a number of projects, including mining, logging and dams.
by Sam Naylor
It’s over, people. Candidates and students alike will be breathing deep the post-election buzz. Well not everyone and probably not even most people. Though a record breaking year for UEA elections, still only 23% of those who could vote did — there was a total of 3404 votes. Granted this is student elections and across the country it appears engagement at this level is struggling to grab the majority’s interest but it still supposes a democratic deficit. Negativity aside for a sentence, it was great to see the highest turn out ever for the voluntary position of Ethical Issues officer. However, letting the gloom resume, the positions for mature and post-graduate students received a shockingly low turnout — only a 7% turnout for mature students and an even lower 4% turnout for post-graduate students. This begs to question: are our democratic procedures within university effective?
Without diminishing the achievements of candidates, student elections are in part a glorified popularity contest. Policies are an important aspect of the elections, but people play a much larger part of the parcel. You know how it is — voting for friends, or friends of friends or that girl that you met at a house party once and she kind of seemed like a decent human being. I can’t see a way for this to move beyond the realm of people politics or the ‘Union Bubble’ with its internal divisions and machinations.
The Norwich Radical contacted the candidates for this year’s Student Union elections. Here are the people running for Ethical Issues and Environment Officer that responded. You can vote here until 12pm on Tuesday 8th of March.
You may have seen my previous article ‘Generation Park and UEA biomess’ for The Norwich Radical (29.08.15), which told the tale of UEA’s five year struggle to get their biomass energy centre to work. Given their advocacy of the current Generation Park Norwich proposals, I now wish to examine how the university has dealt with this failure and the double standards it reveals in their approach to environmental questions.
by Chris Jarvis
It’s no secret that the Liberal Democrats are far from the most popular political party in Britain today. After the General Election, they were left with just 8 MPs, and were ousted from their position as junior coalition partners in Government. For the preceding years, they attracted mockery, ire, and ridicule in equal measure, not least from young people and students, a group who once made up a significant proportion of their voter base – especially in the dizzy days of Cleggmania.
I’m still fascinated, then, by the fact that they have managed to maintain a sizeable membership through this time, including among young people. Why would a young person join the Liberal Democrats, and why would they remain active in the party? This intrigue is what led to me interviewing Charlie Kingsbury, current co-chair of Liberal Youth, as part of a series of interviews focusing of the role of young people in shaping British politics.
Weighing in at an estimated 15m tonnes per annum, the UK’s food waste mountain is an issue that is finally been given the kind of attention it warrants, thanks to the persistence of campaigning groups like Feedback and The Real Junk Food Project, who both featured on Channel Four’s series Hugh’s War on Waste – the latest in a long line of environmental food campaigns lead by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Launched in conjunction with the series, a petition by This Is Rubbish has gained nearly a quarter of a million signatures. In an open letter to the CEO’s of the ‘Big 4’ supermarkets, it calls on retailers to collaborate with each other, as well as WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme), to measure on-farm food waste so that it can be benchmarked by 2018 and ambitious targets can be set to reduce it by 2025.
by Ella Gilbert
I’m writing this in something of a state of shock. Yesterday, following a hastily shortened trial, and alongside twelve others of the #Heathrow13, I was found guilty of aggravated trespass and being ‘unlawfully airside’ (as it’s known in the biz – whatever that biz may be) and told that it was “almost inevitable that you will all receive immediate custodial sentences”. Everyone else was evidently shocked too. There were gasps in the public gallery as this bombshell was dropped, and cries of “shame on you!” from supporters watching.
by Liam Hawkes
I haven’t read a lot of science fiction. I have only heard of a handful of authors, and probably couldn’t name many of their books. But as soon as I turned the first page of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, I was hooked. His beautiful philosophical musings – in Bill Johnston’s English translation – about the nature of consciousness, perception, and the environment struck a chord with me. Which started me thinking about how we interact with our own environment here on Earth, and how perhaps we could benefit from a revaluation of our ideals.
by Liam Hawkes
Most people never entertain thoughts about where their clothing has come from. The demand for fast, cheap fashion has overwhelmed the garment industry for many years now, having a devastating impact on millions who work in the confines of the industry; and similarly a devastating impact on the environment.
For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.
The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.
By John Heathcliff
It’s 8.30 pm on 5th November 2015, and for the first time in over four years UEA students have gone into occupation, just outside the Vice Chancellor’s office. It’s a cold winter night, and it’s raining quite heavily, but the protesters – resplendent in orange jumpsuits – are huddled together under a blue tarpaulin, which is swaying in the wind. Banners and placards are hung across the railings of the square, with one proclaiming loudly: “DIVEST”. There aren’t many students around yet to see the occupation, but there will be more tomorrow, because the protesters are staying for 26 hours: each hour representing £5,000 of the money that UEA invests in fossil fuels. This is the UEA Fossil Free occupation.
By John Heathcliff
On Thursday October 22nd, a coalition of student run societies and campaigns are coming together to put on a debate on UEA’s investment policies, specifically in relation to the fossil fuel industry. Similar discussions are taking place all across the country as student activists organising under the banner of ‘Fossil Free’ are lobbying their institutions to end all financial links with fossil fuel companies on the grounds that such links are inextricably linked to the catastrophic effects of climate change. At UEA, students have been campaigning for over 2 years for senior managers to divest funds from the industry, and have garnered support, taken mass action and put significant pressure on the University.
“When the last tree has been cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught then we will find out that we can’t eat money.” Anonymous proverb
We look to politicians, policy-makers and leaders of industry for guidance and reassurance that the world we live in is being taken care of, for us to live in now and for future generations to enjoy. We shouldn’t bother. When it comes to the environment it’s hard to know where to turn to and who to trust. Donald Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” According to a Greenpeace report, the Koch brothers have invested about $79 million in anti-climate change research and like-minded groups. Last week saw the sale of National Geographic to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox whose news channel, Fox News, was found in 2013 to be only 72% accurate when reporting on science-related segments.
Here,in the UK, the Conservatives have cut support for onshore wind farms and solar installations and changed their minds about fracking on sites of scientific interest (SSSIs).to make any place fair game. New legislation ensures that the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) must change its selection process for members, potentially giving more influence to energy and fuel industry representatives and reducing the level of expertise available to the board. Meanwhile, going as far back as 2011, Florida officials within the Department of Environmental Protection were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability’.
In 2013 the UN Commission on Trade and Development released a report titled “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate”. It recommended a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as nitrogen fertiliser, agro chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”.
Plans will soon be submitted by NPH (Norwich) Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) for the controversial £370m ‘Generation Park’ development, based on the 30 acre former utilities site in the Thorpe Hamlet area of the city. The proposals include 120 low carbon homes, as well as student accommodation, an education centre, a new energy research and development centre, 11 acres of parkland, new cycle routes and the promise of job creation. All this and at no cost to the council taxpayer! Well, at least not in direct monetary terms.
The site will also be host to a straw-pellet burning energy plant that could produce electricity equivalent to powering 88,000 homes, as well providing heat on demand to surrounding businesses and homes via a district heating network, with claims of up to a 25% reduction in the city’s carbon footprint as a result.
“The time has come for all good men to rise above principle.” Huey Long
In September 1999, the government of Bolivia relinquished control of the water of the city of Cochabamba to a business venture, Aguas del Tunari. Part of the contract required the building of a dam (a long desired vanity project of the city’s mayor, Manfred Reyes Villa) so in order to raise the capital, the price of water was raised by an average of 35%. In blissful ignorance of the workings and realism of Bolivian income and earnings, it was stated that “if people didn’t pay their water bills their water would be turned off.” Massive demonstrations began in early 2000 as the water rates took their toll on families and businesses. The Bolivian government declared a ‘state of siege’ and the demonstrators were met with brute force, warrantless arrests, limited travel and, almost inevitably, the death of protesters and soldiers. It was perhaps the televised recording of the lethal shooting of student Victor Hugo Daze that heralded the end. The business executives were no longer safe and fled the country. The government terminated the contract and demonstrators were released. While hailed as a victory for the people, half of the citizens of Cochabamba remain without water.
Dear Mr McNally,
I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the news that Norwich City FC are committed to introducing the living wage — as set by The Living Wage Foundation — to all permanent colleagues across the business by the 2016/17 season, as well as reviewing wage policies of external agencies and contractors who work at the club, to make sure staff also receive the Living Wage by 2016-17. Whilst this is a great step forward in becoming a club that takes its social responsibility seriously, we’re still lagging way behind on environmental sustainability.
One club that’s made huge strides forward in this area is Forest Green Rovers, owned by Dale Vince, the founder of the green energy company — Ecotricity. Since taking over in 2010 the club has implemented many measures to improve their environmental performance and in doing so has achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) — the gold standard for environmental performance, along with international recognition as the world’s leading club in this field.
In May 2016, London will go to the polls to decide who will replace Boris Johnson as their new mayor. A number of progressive parties from across the political spectrum are standing candidates in that election. We’ve got in touch with all those who are seeking nomination from their parties, asking why London should elect them, what their key policy priorities are and how London will be changed if they are elected. We’ll be publishing their responses over the next few weeks.
by Sian Berry
Along with a group of truly excellent colleagues, I’ve put myself forward to be the Green Party candidate for Mayor of London in 2016.
I’ve stood before, taking us up to 4th place in 2008 from 7th the time before, and in 2012 Jenny Jones took us to 3rd place. This makes next year a crucial election for Greens in London. It will take a really focused effort to improve on that, and in this encounter, experience will count for more than usual. I have that experience and am very grateful to receive Caroline Lucas’ backing to take the challenge on again.
We really are seeing incredible things across Europe. In Barcelona and Madrid, and most recently and significantly in Greece, the people are overwhelmingly rejecting top-down, imposed and ever-deeper austerity. When you look at what Barcelona’s Mayor is doing to halt evictions since being elected on the crest of a wave of citizen activism, it’s clear that we have accepted a rough deal for too long in London but that we can make different choices.
Last week Germany announced that 62 former military bases were to be turned into wildlife sanctuaries. While these sanctuaries aren’t going to make a huge dent in the ever-increasing IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this action is in itself representative of how some countries are taking positive steps where possible. The military bases could have been sold for real estate development. France passed new legislation that all new buildings must have solar panels and/or plants on the roofs, the Dutch government have ordered emissions to be slashed by 25% within 5 years, and in 2014, Switzerland topped the Environmental Performance Index as the world leader in challenging environmental issues. The United Kingdom came 12th, but with the forth-coming expansion at Heathrow, the cutting of subsidies to onshore wind farms and the determination to press forward with fracking, is the UK at risk of dropping further down the index?
Last month Norwich City Council opened up a public consultation on the river Wensum to gather views that will be used to shape a strategy aimed at breathing new life into the river — enhancing it for the benefit of the city and its residents. The strategy forms part of a joined up approach, bringing together the four main bodies (Norwich City Council, the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council and the Environment Agency) with statutory responsibility for the river.
The consultation asks interested parties to raise general issues and opportunities that the strategy could address — pertaining to the management of the river and its surroundings, as well as river access and use — but makes it necessary to categorise them as relating to either business, leisure or the environment. This pigeon-holing of issues and opportunities is a real flaw in the consultation, mirroring a wider societal issue of evaluating the value of nature through an anthropocentric lens.
by Indra Francesco – Earth First!
Walking into the field of my first Earth First! gathering was like coming home. At last, here were people passionate about the planet not only with a plan for how to stop its destruction but also for how to put into practice the world we want to live in.
There were around 200 people from all different backgrounds and ages, in a family friendly, low impact camping field for a week. There were workshops on everything you wanted to know about campaigning: gender politics, ecology, legal and security issues, tree climbing, using direct action as a tool, political theory – all run by intelligent, compassionate and experienced activists.
by Clare Fauset
What better way to resist fossil fuel expansion and capitalism this summer than to occupy a beautiful site slated for destruction, sharing tactics and ideas with people taking action from across Europe?
People fighting fracking and campaigning for a more just and sustainable energy and economic system will come together this summer for an international anti-fracking camp in the Basque Country, Spain. The Frackanpada will take place from the 13-19 July and here’s a few reasons why you might want to pack your tent and sunblock for a trip to the Basque Country:
In our post-election society, the environment is no longer top of the agenda. Austerity, budget cuts, economic instability, and the public’s reactions to these things and others, flood the headlines and social media day after day. As the left continues to fragment after a brief period of unity and the many return to their various causes and movements, the environment continues to degrade. The political party manifestos that promised so much for the world around us lie abandoned in party and movement offices and usually a good few clicks away on the internet.
The Labour Party stated that tackling climate change “is an economic necessity, the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.” Maybe in 5 year time they will get to apply that statement. In the meantime, David Cameron recently commented that, “The UK is already playing its part, but we need to do more to get the private sector involved, fostering research and innovation into new clean energies, and supporting growth and jobs […] Quite simply, it’s time the market got to work on climate change.” Rather than think of the environment in terms of necessity for survival, Cameron clearly still sees the environment as a business opportunity.
by Klimacamp im Rheinland
In August, the 6th Climate Camp in the Rhineland (Germany) will take place. From the 7-17th August there will be 10 days full of workshops, networking, exploring sustainable lifestyles, and direct action.
Why a Climate Camp, anyway?
With its three open cast mines and five power plants, the Rhineland coalfield is Europe’s biggest emittant of carbon dioxide. The power plant Niederaußem alone emits about 29 million tons of CO2 per year. That is almost one ton per second — more than one person in Bangladesh causes in a whole year. While the ailing power company RWE can make a lot of profit with that, it means the loss of their livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people especially in the global south. This year’s Climate Camp will most likely take place in the immediate vicinity to the open cast mine Garzweiler, right where the destruction of the global climate begins.
Before I came to Norwich as a student and became properly involved in party politics, I grew up in Arundel & South Downs: one of the safest Tory majorities in the country. It might have been tempting to have painted my left wing politics as the product of rebelliousness or a rejection of the suffocatingly middle-class surroundings I grew up in, but the reality is something very different. My left wing views are not a rejection of a stale, middle-class, conservative environment, but a product of a very different kind of English socialism that was in abundance where I grew up. It is this countryside socialism which the Green party must tap into if the left are ever to win in Britain again.
by Dr. Hayley Pinto
About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.
Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.
As we have seen throughout history direct action has been central to inspiring social change – at this year’s Mass Action Camp in Didcot, from 29th May to the 2nd June, Reclaim the Power are inviting you to get involved.
by Lindsay Alderton, Reclaim The Power
With the re-election of the first fully Conservative Cabinet in Downing Street for 18 years, many have spent the last few weeks reeling in shock, fearing what lies ahead in the oncoming months and years. The implications are severe — over the last five years we’ve had a crushing run of bitter austerity measures, job losses, scapegoating attacks on migrant rights, mass sales of social housing, over a million using food banks, and suicides over benefit sanctions.
At a time when the world’s leading scientific community are imploring us to keep fossil fuels in the ground, our environmentally hostile government is pressing ahead with plans to scrap crucial subsidies for onshore wind farms, as well as championing fracking and investment in North Sea oil.
by Freddie Foot
The dismal election results are not only apparently a victory for ‘blue collar conservatism’ but potentially also Blue Labour or a renewed variant of Blairism. Two of the initial favourites for the leadership of the Labour party, Chucka Ummana (who has now removed himself from the contest) and Liz Kendell, are Blairites, and the media has been a flood with Labours failure to connect with ‘aspirational’ voters and business.
Labour seems to be moving to counter what is admittedly a genuine threat of Blue Collar Conservatism driven by collapse of organised Labour and a relatively socially liberal Conservative party. This leaves a (by no means new) gaping hole fit for a truly progressive movement.
Candidates in the Union of UEA Students 2015 student election were contacted by The Norwich Radical. Responses received by the deadline are presented here, unedited, on an equal platform – candidates are listed in alphabetical order. Manifestos can be found here: www.ueastudent.com/manifestos Voting closes at midday on Friday 13th March. Vote online here: www.ueastudent.com/vote
Why should students support you, in light of The Norwich Radical’s founding statement?
by Lesley Grahame, Green Party Norwich South candidate.
Addressing Climate Change is a necessary part of social justice, not an optional extra for after the revolution, or the repayment of the national debt. It is the most grave of environmental threats, and the most vital of economic opportunities. Capitalism requires permanent growth of any kind, at any cost to anyone.
A fair world economy would concentrate on things that make life better, support the common good and don’t cost the earth.
by Rowan Gavin
So it’s that time of year again. It gets real cold out, warm alcohol is consumed in considerable quantities, and people give each other gifts. At UEA, the People and Planet Society decided that the University management deserved a very special kind of christmas present. As you may have heard, People and Planet have been running a branch of the Fossil Free campaign at UEA. Unfortunately, the University has not responded to our concerns in any meaningful way, so we decided that we should send a more direct message. Judging by their investment choices, it seems that UEA are rather fond of Fossil Fuels – so what better present than their very own oil rig?
In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.
Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.
by Chris Jarvis
Launched in the USA in 2012 by 350.org, the Fossil Free campaign has spread worldwide, building an international movement on University campuses. The aim of the campaign has been to persuade public and civic institutions to remove any investments that they hold with coal, oil and gas companies and thus remove the social license the fossil fuel industry has to operate. Since its inception, Higher Education establishments, city authorities and religious institutions across the globe have cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry
by Eliza Horton and Claire Reiderman
The first in our series of articles from progressive and campaigning societies at UEA.
Standing in a crowded sports hall on the first Tuesday of the semester surrounded by hungover freshers and the smell of stale sweat can only mean one thing – the society fair, or as its known at UEA ‘SocMart’. This year, as a new committee member for several societies, I was kept busy desperately piling all our leaflets onto the exam-sized table and leaping out at unsuspecting first years almost all day. One of these societies was People & Planet UEA, the UEA branch of the national organization founded by students with the aim of environmental and social justice. Surprisingly, given the description I have given above, the day was strangely enjoyable. It felt good to be asking students difficult questions about climate change (rather than just ‘who was playing in the LCR tonight’), to see them struggle to answer and to be able to offer them a way of educating and mobilizing themselves.
People & Planet’s strength lies in its breadth and unity – as a society it operates on two levels: the national and that of the individual university. National regional meetings are held in which campaigns are decided upon and then the students return to their respective universities and put these ideas into action. This is done through weekly society meetings where all members are welcome to share ideas (and usually biscuits); they discuss campaign methods and update the society on any current progress or plans.
by Rowan Gavin
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. For once I’m resisting the philosopher’s urge to insert the word ‘arguably’ into that sentence, because right now I really believe it. My inspiration arose from the People’s Climate March which took place around the world on Sunday the 21st of August, and the creativity, commitment and love of the people involved.
Some months ago a coalition of climate activist groups announced their intent to organise the biggest climate change protest ever, centred around a massive march in New York. Certainly, as became apparent over the following weeks, they were creating the biggest publicity campaign for such an event that I personally had ever heard of. Inspiring videos and statements came flooding in from people all over the globe, from those whose lives were most threatened by climate change, to some of today’s most prolific and successful climate activists, and to those many compassionate individuals who simply felt they had to do something. Reasons to march, tales of previous protest actions, and reports of new additions to the movement sparked across the internet, in a slow but steady growth of solidarity and support.
Before I went to bed on Saturday night, reports and images from marches in time zones ahead of mine began to trickle in − tens of thousands were turning out in Australia, India, various pacific nations, and elsewhere. At 12.30 GMT+1 it was to be London’s turn.