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Month September 2010

Campaign against Climate Change 30th October

The Cancun summit is going to be a washout. Ed Miliband mentioned climate change just once as barely an after-thought. The political agenda doesn’t feature climate change as a high priority. This meeting by CACC is worth going to.

Saturday 30th October, Friends House, Euston Road, London

1.00 pm to 7.00 pm Climate Forum, 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm Climate Concert

We need an escalated scale of ambition on climate, a magnified sense of urgency, a powerful challenge to government and the status quo, a coherent positive alternative to what currently is on offer…… Join some of the people who can, and are, making that happen and be part of making it happen yourself………

With John Mcdonnell MP (Lab, Hayes and Harlington), Caroline Lucas MP (leader Green Party, Brighton Pavillion), Maria Souviron (Bolivian Ambassador), Alexis Rowell (‘Cutting the Carbon’, Camden CAN), Ben Brangwyn (co-founder Transition Towns), Andrew Simms (New Economics Foundation), George Marshall ( founder COIN), Vicki Hird ( FOE Real Food Campaign), John Stewart (HACAN, Airport Watch), Stephen Murphy ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ Team, Chris Baugh (Asst Gen Sec PCS Union) – and more to be announced.

Oh Gosh ! Oh Help ! Oh no!
The Climate Emergency: what the science is telling us.

Yes, we can!

Zero Carbon Britain, rapid decarbonisation of the economy,

Green Energy Revolution. At national and local level.

Yes we must !

Climate Justice, avoiding false solutions, stopping the
expansion of the high-emissions aviation industry, reducing
speeds and emissions of private transport, stopping the UK’s
contribution to deforestation, ending agrofuel use, the UK’s
climate debt to the South and how to repay it.


One million Climate jobs ! A Green New Deal.

The evening continues with Climate Concert Music and
entertainment, with Theo & Shannon from Seize the Day

and others.

The Copenhagen debacle made it clear that we will not see any kind of effective response to the Climate Emergency coming out of the international negotiations before there is a radical shift in climate politics and policy at the national level. What we are seeing in the UK, however, is a painfully slow, faltering and piecemeal approach from a government that clearly does not regard the imminent threat of catastrophic climate change as its first priority. What we need is a coherent plan of radical action on a scale sufficient to match the threat

Why does Bloomberg check on the Greens?

The tabloids don’t bother talking about Green Parties. If they venture into ‘GreenLand’, it is usually either very micro (recycling and why we might have bi0monthly bin collections) or at planetary level (we are all doomed unless we sign up to Carbon Trading..)

So why do the financial media keep a track on Green Parties?

Yesterday, there was an article on the Brazilian election which effectively said that Marina da Silva, the Green candidate, had reached 14% in the opinion polls and would be crucial because she looks like forcing the election into a second round… i.e. king/queen maker.

Then there has been a lot of note about the German Greens, first at coming level with the moribund SPD (slightly left to the UK Labour party) on 24%. And then today how the Greens had slipped 1% to 23%.

The financial media know that Greens in power or with influence can punch way above their weight.

Brazil is where billions are being made in iron ore, timber, oil and agricultural commodities. Greens would change Brazil’s economic orientation, thus causing havoc to some neatly laid plans to make hay while the sun shines. We are talking shedloads of money here.

Germany holds the future of nuclear power in its hands. The support for the Greens is accounted for its stance on nuclear. Add Die Linke to the equation and the German Green-Left is supported by more than one-third of voters. Include the SPD and suddenly Merkel and co are in the minority.

Angela Merkel has recently announced an extension of nuclear plants by 12 years. The game is not over yet and if an anti-nuclear movement were to gather pace in Europe’s strongest economy, then you see how a trillion-Euro industry suddenly does n’t look so hot.

And German Greens could do something even ‘worse’ for nuclear. They might take solar and wind to the next level and truly mainstream. That would transform European energy policy.

Make no mistake, the Germans hold the key to Europe. They are physically at the heart of Europe. They are economically at the heart of Europe. And they are politically at the heart of Europe.

If the Greens can make inroads in crucial countries like Germany and Brazil, then the financial world will have to change course and find other ways of making money.

This will not happen today, this year or the next. But it is certainly a strong possibility later this decade.

Hence a critical eye is kept on Green politics. Bloomberg, and its wealthy readers, knows what’s at stake. And they don’t like it.

US wants Bangladesh army in Afghanistan

An editorial rejecting US call for Dhaka to send troops to hell


Govt must say ‘no’ to US request for Afghan deployment

IT WOULD, perhaps, be wrong to regard the request made on Thursday by the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to the Bangladesh foreign minister, Dr Dipu Moni, for deployment of combat troops in Afghanistan as merely an expression of the ever-deepening despair and desperation of the Barack Obama administration over a war, which it has inherited from the George W Bush era and could very well cause its downfall.

According to a report front-paged in New Age, quoting from a foreign ministry news release, Holbrooke sought for ‘any kind of help like deploying combat troops’, providing economic and development assistance and training for the law enforcement agencies to establish security and stability in Afghanistan.

Request for deployment of combat troops from a ‘Muslim-majority’ country to perpetuate occupation of another ‘Muslim-majority’ country is an old trick that the US has sought to play time and again. A similar request for Bangladeshi troops was made during the Bush years for deployment in Iraq.
Needless to say, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, waged by the US-led forces of the West on the pretext of ‘smoking out’ Osama bin Laden and thus dismantling his al-Qaeda network, and its subsequent occupation, on the plea of spreading the light of democracy in the rocky terrains, have been illegal through and through.

While the invasion itself drew support from the governments in the West, and the sympathy from sections of their people, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the US, Washington currently finds itself largely isolated as it perpetuates the occupation of Afghanistan. As more and more countries withdraw their troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the US is apparently hard put to come up with some sort of legitimacy for its occupation of Afghanistan.
Importantly still, the very basis of Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state itself is opposition to colonialism and neo-colonialism, while Bangladeshis have a rich history of fighting imperialism. Any form of oppression or occupation is against the collective ethos of the Bangladeshis. Moreover, there is hardly any reason for the Bangladesh government to be fooled by the US narrative on the ultimate objective of its occupation of Afghanistan.

In the past nine years or more of the US-led occupation, Afghanistan has slid further into despondency, disorder and division. Democracy that the US promised the Afghan people has thus far translated into an extremely corrupt government, which, incidentally, seems to have no control beyond the highly fortified green zone in Kabul.

The puppet president seems to have the lone objective of perpetuating his and his cronies’ control over all the shady deals that are signed in the name of the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

Opium production in Afghan, the decimation of which was claimed to be another objective of the US-led invasion and occupation, has meanwhile increased manifold. Last but not least, the Taliban that the US-led forces dethroned are on the way back and Washington is actively considering negotiations with what it calls the ‘good’ Taliban. Overall, nine years of US-led misadventure have given Afghanistan just the opposite of what Bush, and later Obama, promised.
Most importantly, an affirmative response to the US request could invite the wrath of national, regional and international Islamist radicals upon Bangladesh. The government needs only to look at India and Pakistan to realise what the consequence of siding with Washington could be. Hence, the government should only have one answer for Washington: a resounding ‘no’.

Is Spain the next Greece?

No, according to Mr. Zapatero.  He told CNBC that house prices in Spain had reached their bottom and would not fall any further. Really? Has anyone told him the mismatch between rents and prices? Has anyone told him that the economy, at Depression levels of 20% unemployment, is facing the abyss?

That the bond markets want a ‘hair-shirt’ budget of swingeing cuts to prove his market machismo. A bit like what they are doing in Greece with those other ‘socialists’.

Spain has been a leading light in renewable energy so far this century. I hope it does not destroy a promising industry – one of very few worldbeaters it has in its arsenal.

Zapatero’s PSOE have cobbled a deal with the right-wing Basque nationalists (PNV) to avoid an early general election, and probable defeat.

The general strike on September 29 next week will pave the way for a challenge from within the centre-left’s ranks. So far, the two richest states (Catalunya and Pais Vasco) have suffered a lot less than Andalucia, Murcia or Extremadura.

They hold the key.

Unfortunately, the peninsula looks like falling into the Greece trap of trying to please an ungrateful market. It will cut, cut and cut and still be trashed financially.

Wait for the Greek default over the next 24 months (or sooner). Madrid will be caught in the blowback.

It will then wish it had put down building blocks for a modern low-carbon industrial infrastructure and a more equal society and state.

History is not in its side. Madrid (and Toledo before it) has always believed in an imperial world of rent collection, whether from Latin American colonies or the northern and north-eastern nations. It might need to go into ‘cold turkey’ to break that habit.

Environmental Who’s Who at Lyons

It will be interesting to hear in particular what Jonathan Porritt says. This might be the opening salvo in a difficult debate about the contradications of economic growth and sustainability, in an ‘Age of Austerity’.

Put another way, if cuts reduce jobs and economic activity, it will reduce economic growth and therefore carbon emissions.  Will a vocal minority in the wider environmental movement be pleased with this result? This movement is very wide in terms of its  affiliation. We should not pretend it speaks with one voice.

Others also want carbon emissions to fall but want it done in a logical manner where jobs are protected, new ones created and a new low-carbon economy intiated  and where the majority of Europe do not have pay for this transition unfairly.

We don’t want an environmental equivalent of the budget cuts where the culprits get away scott free while the citizens pay to rescue them.

And there is the question of short-term to long term.

We will need to continue articulating our vision that we can fight the cuts to public services, while demanding investment in a low-carbon transformation. A modern day Lucas Aerospace idea where jobs are saved…… swords turned to ploughshares…

In the short-term, we have to demand government spending…. a form of Green Keynesianism if you like to protect livelihoods but ensure this is directed, state-led investment in green sectors…. alongside a parallel restructuring of the banking system (by which we don’t mean the sham new regulations coming out of Brussels or London).

Crucially, we will not convince people of the seriousness of climate change if we don’t offer them a better future. If we want to take on the capitalist system, then it means taking on the big guns over inequality, income & wealth distribution and a non-imperial foreign policy.

Click above for a report in the Independent.

UK Wind power reaches 5 gigawatts today

Britain’s capacity to generate electricity from the wind will pass 5 gigawatts today, enough for 2.7 million homes, as Vattenfall AB opens the world’s biggest offshore turbine farm south-east of England.

THe 300-megawatt, 100-turbine farm at Thanet means the UK now has 1,341 megawatts of installed ofshore wind capacity, more than the rest of the world combined.

Britain also has 3,715 megawatts of onshore wind.

Wind power now accounts for 4% of UK’s electricity consumption.

The Vattenhall farm was built at a cost of £900 million and includes 100 Vestas Wind Systems A/S V90 wind turbines.

The gols for onshore wind is to reach an installed capacity of 13 to 14 gigawatts by 2020.

For offshore wind, farms with 4 gigawatts of capacity have planning permission or are being built.

In January, the government awarded licenses for 32,200 megawatts of projects including Centrica PLC, RWE AG (Germany) and Statoil ASA (Norway).

REpower wants 1/3 of Europe’s offshore wind market

Repower Systems AG aims for a one-third share of the European offshore wind-energy market and will compete for a French government turbine contract.

French newspaper, Les Echos, said the global wind-turbine industry is producing 15% more equipment than is needed, creating a ‘buyer’s market’.