Author Archives: admin

News from FEASTA

feasta logo

FEASTA (the foundation for the economics of sustainability) was co-founded by our valued colleague, the late Richard Douthwaite and Caroline Whyte has agreed to liaise with us on his behalf.

cap global carbon logoCapGlobalCarbon project sets out a global system for addressing climate change. Since the CGC website went public we’ve been working hard to attract visitors and answer questions. We are collecting these questions which we intend to include in a FAQ on a later stage. This is what happened during the last two weeks:

John Jopling published a 21 page article on the Green House UK platform. “In this new Greenhouse gas, John Jopling of the Irish think-tank Feasta argues that the situation calls for non-governmental actors to set up the necessary system of global regulation that governments seemingly cannot deliver.”

Erik-Jan van Oosten wrote “Making sure we’ll be safe – a global solution to avert disastrous climate change” for the Valhalla Movement. This article goes into the arguments why governments would want to endorse CapGlobalCarbon based on what they can and cannot agree upon.

cap global carbon header

The OECD insights blog features an article about CapGlobalCarbon by John Jopling. “This post suggests how the OECD could play a crucial part in helping to establish an effective global response to climate change.”

A detailed explanation of the scheme including the history behind CapGlobalCarbon, specific arguments for governments and business and the differences with other capping schemes is now accessible on our website.

The Guardian newspaper featured a letter from John Jopling in reaction to the ambition of the paper to work towards practical solutions to climate change.

CapGlobalCarbon can now be found on twitter and Facebook. We are providing links and quotes which we hope you will share with your friends and colleagues. We are looking for people who want to join the core group. Every Monday at 11.00 GMT we meet on Skype and invite you to join us. In this stage we mostly need help with media, strategy and contacting key figures. To see who’s involved in the core team see the about us page. Email us at info@capglobalcarbon.org if you’d like to be invited into the core group and briefly describe what you think you can add to the team.

-

News from Scientists for Global Responsibility

 

SGR

SGR associate member Barbara Panvel has agreed to update the network as Alan Cottey is now devoting much of his time to the Steering Group of Visions for Change Norwich.

SGR’s latest newsletter covered science and engineering for war; shale gas and fracking, risks of nuclear weapons use, chemical weaponry and World War I, controlling global carbon emissions, UK domestic energy efficiency programmes and corporate influence on research on genetically-modified crops. An extract follows:

With momentum increasing for nuclear disarmament, especially on the international stage, SGR has provided important inputs into the debate in recent months.

Its briefing on the impacts of the UK’s nuclear weapons on the climate and humanity, should they ever be used, continued to be in demand – including intergovernmental nuclear weapons conferences in New York and Vienna. The Vienna conference was especially important as the Austrian government announced there its intention to lead efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons abolition treaty.

The Rethink Trident campaign was re-launched in the autumn – supported by SGR and numerous peace groups, politicians and celebrities, The aim is to run a high profile campaign against replacement of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system as we head towards the scheduled parliamentary vote in 2016. The re-launch included a full page advert in The Guardian and a parliamentary seminar. SGR also supported the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

In the summer, Philip Webber took part in an expert seminar on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in London. In September, an article on the SGR website about nuclear weapons and the Scottish independence referendum attracted a lot of interest.

Later in the autumn, a new book on nuclear weapons was published – which included a chapter by Philip. ln December, Stuart Parkinson spoke about the issue at a Labour Students event at Lancaster University.

News from Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena (below, top centre)  was quoted extensively by Russell Brand in his new book ‘Revolution’.

LOCAL FUTURES (ISEC) is organising a conference in Oregon where speakers from around the world will be covering a range of interconnected topics – local food, technology, healthcare, local business, indigenous rights, environmental justice and much more.

isec conf 2015                   Workshops include:

  • envisioning local learning;
  • local community self-governance: the next step towards an economics of happiness;
  • taking the 10-day local food challenge: how local can we go?
  • open power: electoral reform & the open source toolkit;
  • the terroir economy;
  • how to run an offers and needs market;
  • animating the commons;
  • hard to swallow: race, class and gender in the food system;
  • the climate agent of change;
  • the eloquence of stones: excursions into the remarkable vibrancy of things, and
  • towards a caring economy: communities that nurture young and old.

Regular price tickets are on sale until February 9th. Low income and student tickets and scholarships are available. Or invite your friends on Facebookand watch for the videos, which will be posted online after the conference.

-

News from Jackie Carpenter

trelay farm large

From Trelay Farm, Cornwall, Jackie sends a 2015 wish that compassion and peace for all people, all plants and animals and the planet Earth would be achieved.

Trelay farm is a cohousing community in Crackington Haven. Co-housing is a way of living which consciously brings individuals and families together to share common aims and activities, while also enjoying their own self-contained accommodation and personal space. Read more on the site, http://www.trelay.org/ and in our May news: http://neweranetwork.info/2014/05/26/news-from-jackie-carpenter-three-day-event/.

The farm is a working smallholding in rolling countryside with views along a wooded valley to the sea and a profusion of wild flowers and wildlife in the farm’s woodland and tree-lined banks. It surrounded by its own 32 acres of land, with lots to see including pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and various renewable energy projects. The farm grows fruit and vegetables following sustainable and organic principles.

trelay 2014

The writer looks forward to more news of Roger’s laboratory (its function), the summerhouse and the memorial roundhouse – ‘under construction’.

-

TTIP: Molly Scott Cato’s reference, a paper by Julian Rose and an article by James Bruges

The FT reports that the EU has been hit by a stinging public backlash against its landmark trade deal with the US, making it increasingly unlikely that the accord will be concluded this year.

Brussels last year launched a public consultation to gauge popular sentiment about the most contentious part of the deal: clauses mapping out the rights of foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals, bypassing national courts.

The European Commission received almost 150,000 responses to its survey – more than 100 times more than any previous consultation on trade – and admitted on Tuesday that the majority of respondents expressed fears that the deal’s investment clauses would undermine national sovereignty.

“The consultation clearly shows that there is huge scepticism against the [investment] instrument,” said Cecilia Malmström, the EU trade commissioner.

MEP Molly added her thoughts to this debate  – including one concern:

molly scott cato 4“The Cornish pasty is one of many iconic British food products that currently enjoy special regional protection, but could be threatened by a flood of American imitations under TTIP.

However, we should be far more worried about what might lurk inside our pasty if TTIP is agreed. Beef from intensively reared livestock, treated with growth hormones and genetically modified potatoes could find their way under the crust, not to mention the lower animal welfare and environmental standards so prevalent in the US.” More on this story

Julian’s four page paper may be read here: http://neweranetwork.info/reports/closing-the-gate-on-gmo-and-the-criminal-transatlantic-trade-agreement/.

jrose-gm-free2It ends: All groups and organizations that care about retaining a largely GMO Free Europe and the consumption of genuine, healthy food – in tandem with the ecological farming methods that produce it – had better jump to the task of stopping TTIP, and its related trading blocks, from destroying the last line of defence against a complete corporate take-over of the food chain.

Join the resistance! Check the internet and join one of the groups in your area that are committed to blocking TTIP and CETA.

 *

james bruges2James – in an article originally published in the Friend, asks, “Why bother about TTIP?”

It would give corporations an exclusive form of justice, enabling them to sue governments should their profits be threatened.

It could:

  • reduce social, environment and food-safety regulation;
  • open up public services such as the NHS for privatisation;
  • prevent government from returning them to the public sector;
  • eliminate preferential treatment for local suppliers;
  • weaken workers’ rights;
  • and curtail the regulation of banks.

The Quaker Council for European Affairs has strongly condemned the TTIP.

So what is it?

The European Commission says: “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. It aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.

“On top of cutting tariffs across all sectors, the EU and the US want to tackle barriers behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. These often cost unnecessary time and money for companies who want to sell their products on both markets. For example, when a car is approved as safe in the EU, it has to undergo a new approval procedure in the US even though the safety standards are similar. The TTIP negotiations will also look at opening both markets for services, investment, and public procurement. They could also shape global rules on trade.”

The harmonisation of regulations causes concern. It seems likely, for example, that the more rigorous safety standards in Europe would be reduced in order to harmonise with lower standards in the USA. This could, among other things, open the floodgates to growth hormones in meat, chicken washed in chlorine and pesticides harmful to bees. TTIP deals with social and environmental regulations from the point of view of business alone without taking into account the affect on society or nature. Corporations could determine aspects of government policy.

“Extrajudicial tribunals comprised of three private attorneys” would judge disputes using the ISDS (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement) formula to impose fines, with no right of appeal. QCEA says it “completely rejects the inclusion of ISDS as part of the TTIP . . . We consider that the existing national judicial structures in both the US and the EU provide adequate, unbiased, and democratically sound legal systems.”

ISDS, obviously, appeals to corporations and their shareholders but it is less clear why any government should support it since it would reduce their freedom to legislate in the public’s interest.

ISDS has been used in other bilateral trade agreements. For example, Egypt has been sued for increasing the minimum wage; Slovakia for attempting to bring health insurance back into the public sector; Canada for refusing fracking rights in Quebec; Germany for deciding to phase out nuclear energy; Australia and Uruguay for introducing plain-pack cigarettes; El Salvador for protecting its water from contamination by gold mines; Vermont is for requiring GM foods to be labelled.

QCEA refers to the ‘chill effect’: “governments could potentially change policy to suit the preferences of big business rather than risk losing large sums of tax-payers’ money, even if the claim is potentially frivolous.” For example New Zealand has decided not to go ahead with plain-pack cigarettes due Australia’s experience. The threat of huge compensation claims could make it impossible for any future British government to stop the further privatisation of the NHS. And finance? “ISDS would empower the world’s largest banks to launch investor-state claims against US and EU financial regulations, which could chill regulators’ resolve to enact the bold financial stability measures needed to prevent another crisis.”

Our government claims that TTIP would enhance growth. QCEA says, “The stated purpose of the proposed Free Trade Agreement is to increase incomes for citizens in both the EU and the US. In this situation, the profits will most likely go to those who are already wealthy, the investors . . . giving large multinational corporations an advantage over Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) . . . The potential cost to governments is enormous.” During recent decades, growth has led to stagnant wages and spiraling inequality.

There is some light on the horizon. Germany and Austria have said that they will not support TTIP unless the ISDS mechanism is removed. Also, in response to widespread protests, the European Commissioner stated: “My Commission will not accept that the jurisdiction of courts in the EU Member States be limited by special regimes for investor-to-state disputes. The rule of law and the principle of equality before the law must also apply in this context”. However, many governments, headed by the UK, are challenging him.

Even without ISDS being included, the remaining provisions of this trade deal could greatly damage public services, the environment and health & safety. The full proposals were not published until the end of the year though implementation is scheduled for 2015. The situation is urgent.

If you also feel strongly please write to your MP and support at least one of the many NGOs that oppose the proposal.

google: ‘ttip wiki’ or ‘qcea’s background paper’ or ‘qcea’s model answers’.

News from Zerbanoo Gifford

zerbanoo Zerbanoo sends new year greetings and describes 2014 as a year of transitions and transformations at the Asha Centre. It has been a year of grounding and preparation for a whole new phase of work.

One of the major transitions was the official ending of the E.U.’S educational programme ‘Youth in Action’, which has been running at the Centre for the last six years, and the beginning of the European Union’s new seven-year programme called ‘Erasmus Plus’.

Much energy was spent in making sure ASHA remains a key player in this new programme; this meant understanding a whole new system of application, ascertaining and meeting new eligibility criteria and keeping informed of new priorities After a nail-biting period between April and August, they were finally granted approval on all projects. asha  young 2014

Another training programme is aimed at mainstreaming outdoor education in youth work and promotion of healthy lifestyles and life in harmony with the natural environment.

It was confirmed that ASHA would take the lead for a two-year project on Peace Education with four European gainers in Germany, Turkey, Latvia and the Netherlands. This will consolidate their efforts to create an ASHA ‘Peace-building’ model for young people to use in their communities across the world.

Alongside this major transition from old to new, they continued their volunteering programme, with young people from many different countries living and working together at the Centre for 10-11 months. This year they have welcomed the first ever Finnish and Palestinian volunteers, who will be with them till next August.

 *

The Chagos story continues to surprise supporters and create new law. (For August’s news see: http://neweranetwork.info/2014/08/28/news-from-zerbanoo-gifford-the-asha-centre-and-the-case-of-the-chagos-islanders/. Below America’s Deep Space Surveillance Facility, one of the military uses for which the islanders were evicted from their home.

chagos Deep Space Surveillance facility

Update: In December 2012, William Hague announced a new Feasibility Study which is now due to report in January 2015. The argument that resettlement is ”feasible” has clearly been won.

Chagossians are beginning to revive hopes of a return which were so cruelly dashed by the last government. But the injustice of the House of Lords’ decision in 2008 (upholding Jack Straw’s severance of their homeland tie) remains. So, to remedy the outrage of the three House of Lords judges basing their support of FCO on the very conclusions of the discredited feasibility study, we are now going back to the Supreme Court (who now replace the House of Lords) to argue for the cancelling of the 2008 decision and for reinstatement of the right of abode.

This unprecedented chapter in legal history has kept Zerbanoo’s husband Richard out of retirement since 2006 when the FCO began their nefarious series of appeals and suppressed evidence of their methods. Whilst Chagossians await their tryst with destiny, if only in partial measure, the case for a public inquiry into this oft-lamented chapter gains momentum.

May this work move forward significantly in 2015

.

News from Tracy Worcester

Local residents and campaigners have written to Derbyshire County Council to urge councillors to reject the Foston ‘factory farm’ which would house 2,500 sows, producing 1,000 pigs a week. In September the Derby Telegraph reported that there were 38,000 objections. The planning decision, scheduled for October, still has not been taken.

tracy 1Tracy, who is director of the “Farms not Factories” campaign group, said she hoped the sheer number of objections would lead to the plans being thrown out:

“Opposition to the development by local residents is almost unanimous. They have not been persuaded that the development will not poison them with toxic emissions, pollute local waterways, increase the risk of flooding and disturb the amenity of the area with vastly-increased heavy vehicle traffic.

planning pig farm notice

Relevant postscript . . .

meat benign extravance coverIn 2010 George Monbiot agreed that if pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw and grass from fallows and rangelands – food for which humans don’t compete – meat becomes a very efficient means of food production.

But this week, though agreeing with Tracy and Simon about the evils of raising broiler chickens, stalled pigs and feedlot cattle: “sustaining unhealthy animals in crowded sheds” – and referring to a recent parliamentary report – he rescinds his acceptance of Simon Fairlie’s position in Meat: a benign extravagance, in his quest to recover hill and forest habitats for imported wild predator animals and birds.

In a second message Tracy refers to another new report, ‘The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’, which illustrates the economic and health impacts of antibiotic resistance. She adds that this report only focuses on public health, not their effects on intensively reared animals (Veterinary Times, 8 December 2014).

Fairlie has pointed out that around half the current global meat supply causes no loss to human nutrition and in fact delivers a net gain, as it comes from animals eating grass and crop residues that people can’t consume. It is  low energy, low waste, just, diverse and small-scale.

We add to his recommendation,Tracy’s reminder of the importance of conserving our native and rare breed pigs, keeping diversity within the pig species through sustainable mixed farming methods – and all native animal and bird breeds and seeds.

.