Graffitied in swirly red French handwriting, on the wide concrete track that leads through the camp, is the motto: ‘Nous sommes toutes des enfantes du Carnet!’: we are all children of the Carnet. The Carnet is a stretch of land on the Loire Estuary, next to the Saint-Nazaire seaport and downstream of France’s sixth largest city, Nantes. The 110 hectare area which incorporates 51 hectares of wetland and is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered and on the brink of local extinction, is under threat of development. With a nationwide shift towards supporting green energy projects, and the Saint-Nazaire seaport earmarked as a prime location for offshore wind farms, the Carnet has been chosen as the site for a new ‘green energy industrial park.
by Sam Alston
Last November saw climate activist attempt to use USA state elections in order to pass through a number of climate friendly referendums. Almost all of the measures fell victim to the huge expenditures spent by fossil fuel companies on counter campaigns. However, those concerned with the fate of the planet had reasons to be optimistic, as climate change begins to emerge as an issue on the USA political agenda.
by Rowan Gavin
Today, Essex-born folk singer Beans On Toast releases his ninth album, ‘Cushty’. Last night, I saw Beans play live for the ninth-ish time (if I’m honest, I’ve lost count, but the symmetry is pleasing). If you’ve been to a British festival in the past decade you’ve probably run into Beans as well – he’s the kind of musician who pops up everywhere. With a new album out every year since 2009, he’s perpetually turning up in your town on tour, or supporting one of his many musical friends, or appearing at festivals you didn’t know he was on the bill for.
by Laura Potts
Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.
by Joe Burns
27 km north of Blakeney Point in Norfolk there’s a wind farm called Race Bank. The project has been in development for over a decade and has just started producing electricity. After the first of 91 turbines were installed, the farm began to successfully generate electricity and will be able to support the electricity needs for almost half a million homes once all 91 turbines are finished and operating.
This is great news. Why exactly? Well the project will result in over 830,000 tonnes of annual CO2 savings and will operate for 25 years. Plus it’s good to see another addition to the UK’s already successful and world leading wind farms, and there are plans for more. It’s also encouraging to see major international energy companies fight for the biggest wind turbines possible, as when they are far out at sea, campaign groups can’t really complain about their views being ruined.
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.
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.
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 Olivia Hanks
When a vote to ‘take back control’ has given us a new Prime Minister elected by no one – not even by her own party, let alone the country – it’s tempting to give up on it all in despair and just run around collecting imaginary monsters instead. Those, at least, we can control.
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 Benjamin Brown
On Tuesday May 3rd, there was an aberration from my normal routine. Rather than dragging myself reluctantly out of bed, I was up at dawn, tense and excited. Rather than preparing for a day of work, I was zipping myself up in a bright red jumpsuit and scrawling a contact number for legal support onto my arm with permanent marker. Today was the day I would join with over three hundred other protesters and take part in an act of mass civil disobedience against Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest opencast coal mine.
Our convergence on this site, near the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, was at the invitation of local campaigners from the United Valleys Action Group. We came to stand in solidarity with their fight against the mine whilst amplifying our call for green jobs and a future free from fossil fuels. An end to coal, and an end to the political intransigence that has delayed action on climate change for far too long.
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 realisation that renewable energy is going to be essential for the future is being embraced by more and more countries. With their geothermal and hydropower, Iceland’s electricity supply is 100% renewable energy. Thanks to it’s water projects, the African country of Lesotho has almost 100% renewable electricity. Albania runs on 85% renewable while Paraguay’s Itaipu dam provides 90% of its electricity and 19% of Brazils. By July 2015 Denmark had already produced 116% of its electricity needs and went on to sell its excess over the rest of the year. Infrastructure is being prepared to transform the way countries generate their power and investment is increasing. Renewable energy is becoming more and more accepted. San Jose in Costa Rica and Vancouver in Canada are just a few of the many cities committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy over the coming decades.
Yet with so much promise for the future, how is it that oil continues to present such a complex issue?
The Paris talks on climate change produced an agreement to keep global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Current predictions are for a rise of about five degrees Celsius.
Early in the New Year a decision will be made on whether to give planning permission for the biggest straw-burning incinerator in the world to be built in Norwich. It will be called Generation Park.
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.
Steel is a primary component in infrastructure, vital to the effective functioning of modern, industrialised economies. It is used to make buses, bridges and buildings, as well as train tracks and in engineering for power generation, including wind. However it is also a core element in infrastructure and products damaging to our civilisation – oil rigs, cars, and polluting coal power plants.
We undoubtedly need steel, but what we should be using it for, whether we should be producing it in the UK, and if so how much we should be producing, is more than a question of skilled labour and production capacity.
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 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.
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 Liam McCafferty
Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?