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 Olivia Hanks
Between 2013 and 2019, an era of ‘austerity’, most of us noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of our public spaces and infrastructure – existing roads and pavements not maintained, school buildings getting shabbier, public facilities closing. During that period, Norfolk County Council oversaw at least £725m of funded infrastructure projects. Incredibly, more than £650m of this was for building or widening roads.
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.
The UK’s free-market economy as a whole is facing one crisis after another. That is why policy makers and businesses need to consider the co-operative option which offers products and services to our economy. Our corporate and political culture’s lack of innovation and strict adherence to the neoliberal free market means this is sadly more of a dream than reality. However, other nations have successfully replicated this alternative economic model to adapt to their own individual needs.
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.
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 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!”
A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.
So some would have you think. Over the two years since the first run of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This new set of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.
By Maria Cooper
I went to university in St Andrews, Scotland. Well, in a sense I went to two – the old conventional institution you’ve heard of, and the far more inspiring Transition University of St Andrews. Transition started out for me as something I just did to survive – it was cheaper to grow food than buy it, cheaper to swap clothes and books than buy them, and being outside planting trees or mending bikes was a life-giving contrast to the stuffy library and theoretical learning that otherwise filled my days. Besides, many of my friends and I often felt that sort of depression so prevalent among students. What difference am I making in the world? Who cares about yet another essay, being read by one tutor and then put on the pile of student pride or shame never to be looked at again?
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 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 Olivia Hanks
Do you keep thinking you should travel more, but find yourself doing other things instead? If so, the internet would like you to believe you are a bad person. Hyper-motivational Instagram culture has led to a panoply of blogs enumerating the reasons Why Everyone Should Travel and Why Travel Makes You A Better Person. International travel, once the privilege of the very few, has passed straight through the stage of being considered a right: cyberspace now deems it a responsibility.
by John Heathcliff
As each day passes, it becomes clearer and clearer that UEA’s relationship with sustainability is one of convenience rather than conviction. Revelations about over £10 million of losses from the failed biomass project on the campus and the recently mothballed ‘Generation Park’ in Norwich have demonstrated the fundamental ineptitude at the heart of decision making at the University. Grand, white elephant projects intended to bring significant reputational benefit to the institution as well as new revenues have become undeniable disasters. National media have run the story, highlighting the amount of public and student money spent on failed projects that could have instead been spent on education and effective research.
Looking at these errors in isolation is bad enough. If you join together the dots, it only becomes worse.
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.
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.
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.
As Caroline Lucas so eloquently put it, “Climate change is not just another issue that we add to a list of policy areas, it’s the lens through which we see everything, and there is no evidence yet, that that kind of understanding is in Jeremy or indeed the rest of the Labour Party”. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party is something that offers hope to all of us who oppose the neoliberal religion and the brutality of the current government. But even if Corbyn can help break the consensus over austerity, he is both unable and unwilling to promote true ecological sustainability, something at the core of all Green policy.