Safeguarding future generations: a tentative suggestion

George Monbiot, writing in the _Guardian_ yesterday, proposes the idea of a ‘100-year Parliamentary committee’ to speak up for the interests of future generations. This idea to end the short-termism of too much politics is helpful, but not [I fear] robust enough to actually safeguard the interests of generations as yet unborn. Here is a tentative suggestion of a more robust alternative: That every major decision made at any level of government should be subject to potential veto by an individual or small group charged exclusively with having regard to the interests of the future inhabitants of this, our one and only planetary home. The name I think it natural to invest these proposed guarantors of the future with would perhaps be congenial to the newspaper that Monbiot writes in: I think that they should be called guardians
I would welcome comment on this idea. Is it a good one? Or is it too ‘out there’?
Let’s see what Rupert’s readers think…
 

Victory in Spa Common struggle!

I have just heard the news that the Spa Common planning application that I have blogged about previously has been defeated.
I have been helping out residents with their campaign against this planning application in the North Walsham area — see http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1315 . My assistance has focussed on the transport aspect, which is my expertise — and which, I am pleased to say, proved the undoing of this application for all those lorries to go down those country lanes.. I spoke about all this at the massive public meeting in North Walsham last month.
Norfolk Highways have made absolutely the right decision in turning down this application from HFS, which would have devastated the lives of those living in Spa Common in particular and much of North Walsham in general. The quality of life of local people has trumped the crude profit motive that lay behind this plan to move so many lorries in and out of this utterly-unsuitable site. This is a good day for local government in Norfolk!

Tackling Climate Change is Route to Creating Jobs in Economic Downturn [Press release]

 


“This is the wrong time to be watering down climate change agreements”

Rupert Read, Prospective Green Party MEP for Eastern Region, has hit out at European Council attempts to use the financial crisis to water down climate agreements and jeopardise thousands of potential jobs in East Anglia as well as potentially denying people lower fuel bills and cleaner air.

Dr. Read, who is a Norwich City Councillor said

“Efforts by Member States to deliberately dilute proposed EU climate legislation, in terms of both targets and mechanisms, are utterly unacceptable and could harm the future prosperity and energy security of East Anglia.

In March 2007 Ministers agreed that the EU must unilaterally reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% on 1990 levels if a future global climate agreement is reached. They are now calling this commitment into question, as well as trying to undermine EU emissions reductions still further by allowing for a maximum of whatever targets they do agree to be met by offsetting abroad. The British Government is one of the most active on this – further evidence of its double standards on climate change.

As for the precise policies, among many other worrying moves it seems the Council is rowing back on the “polluter pays” principle that’s supposed to underpin and incentivise emissions reductions via the Emissions Trading System; and to oppose the idea of ringfencing money raised through emissions trading for climate related purposes both at home and abroad.

This is the wrong time to be watering down climate change agreements. Attempting to use the financial crisis as an excuse to avoid tougher action on climate change is completely misguided. 

The Stern report showed clearly the price of not taking action on climate change. The climate crisis is potentially more devastating than even the economic crisis – and ironically, the measures needed to address it are precisely those which could also help avoid a global recession. Strong policies which incentivise wind power, for example, could result in an avoided fuel cost of €20.5 billion across the EU alone by 2020, and provide over 500,000 jobs. East Anglia could be a leading region within Europe on developing renewable energy.”

The Green Party is proposing a “Green New Deal”, following in the footsteps of Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. The Green New Deal would re-regulate international finance and bring an end to subsidies for polluting energy sources such as coal and nuclear. It would herald a major programme of public and private investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, generating thousands of green-collar jobs in the process. The Green New Deal is a route to make the transition away from declining fossil fuels and avoid a huge economic downturn at the same time.

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Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008 — Vote now!

Worst EU Lobbying Award 2008 – Vote Now at www.worstlobby.eu!

The Green Party is proud of our MEPs’ absolutely solid record on exposing dubious lobbying practices. I plan to follow in their footsteps. So, we strongly welcome the chance to vote in the ‘2008 Worst EU Lobbying Awards’ – the annual award for deceptive, manipulative or unethical lobbying.

This year you can vote in two categories:

    1.      The ‘Worst EU Lobbying’ Award for the lobbyist, company or lobby group that in 2008 has employed the most deceptive, misleading, or otherwise problematic lobbying tactics in their attempts to influence EU  decision-making.

    2.      The special ‘Worst Conflict of Interest’ Award for the MEP, Commissioner or Commission official whose background, side-jobs or other liaisons with special interests raise the most serious concerns about their ability to act in public interest.

Select your winners now in both categories and cast your vote at http://www.worstlobby.eu/2008

The nominees for the 2008 Worst EU Lobbying Award are:
    *    the Agrofuels lobby (MPOC, Unica and Abengoa) – for greenwashing agrofuels;
    *    European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicine – for hiding the involvement of big pharma;
    *    European Business and Parliament Scheme – for EP indoors lobbying;
    *    Gplus and Aspect Consulting – for spreading war propaganda;
    *    the airline lobby IATA – for deceptions to avoid CO2 reduction obligations.

The nominees for the Worst Conflict of Interest Award are:
    *    Dr Caroline Jackson MEP – appointed advisor to a waste company;
    *    Piia-Noora Kauppi MEP – lobbies for her future employer;
    *    Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP – doubles as a lawyer;
    *    Ex-Commission officials Petite, Klotz and Kjølbye – now lobbying for industry;
    *    DG Trade Director Wenig – slips inside informations to lobbyists.
   
The candidates were selected out of 54 nominations by citizens and groups from around Europe after thorough scrutiny by the organisers. For more background on the individual candidates, check out http://www.worstlobby.eu. The voting website is available in English and German.

Help us expose the worst lobbying in Brussels and cast your vote at at http://www.worstlobby.eu/2008!

Please spread the news about the awards! Tell your friends via our website or put banners on your websites. Banners can be found here: http://www.foeeurope.org/corporates/banner/wla.html

Online voting closes November 30. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Brussels on December 9. The Worst EU Lobbying Awards are organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, LobbyControl and Spinwatch.

Earlham families save trees from the axe

Story From Norwich Evening News

Concerned people who live near a new housing development in Earlham have been victorious in safeguarding trees.

Persimmon Homes is currently building a development of 42 three-storey houses on land between Gipsy Lane and Earlham Road.

But the work has already caused controversy after the housing developer felled about 17 trees, angering people living nearby.

Neighbouring families have since been keeping a close eye on progression at the site and recently discovered workers were building what they believed to be a garage close to trees that were subject to a tree preservation order.

Their concerns were initially put to one side but following a series of emails and a meeting with the site manager, the housing developer has vowed it will not do anything to harm these trees.

Gerard Crook, 52, who lives with his partner Denise Denis on Gipsy Lane, said: “I was being a nosy neighbour on the behalf of other residents and what we discovered was that a structure was being set out what appeared to be rather close to our boundary and very close to the trees.

“The site manager said the structure was set out according to the plans but there were no trees on the plans.

“The Green Party then drew my attention to a document that was in the planning agreement that storage of materials was not permitted and that building structure should be at least one metre away from the tree canopies.

“Anyway, the site manager has since told us that there are considering alternative plans for this structure and I’m very pleased that the company is not doing anything that might be harmful to the trees.

“Trees are attractive, natural feature that of looked after and for, can be part of our daily lives. Trees make a contribution to our world and environment and shouldn’t be removed unnecessarily.”

Rupert Read, Green Party city councillor, said: “I am really glad that I was able to help Gerry and Denise in their successful effort to safeguard these trees, but the real credit must go to them: without their vigilance, I fear that we would have lost these trees.”

The property developer got the go ahead to build the houses at the end of July 2007.

Last October, residents claimed that 17 out of the 20 trees that had tree preservation orders (TPOs) on them were chopped down to make way for the development.

However, Persimmon Homes argued that the trees removed from the site had been agreed with city council officers and the city council confirmed that the trees were not protected.

The housing developer was contacted by the Evening News on the latest matter but no one was available to comment.

Bank nationalisation now!

As shares drop further today, and (despite the bail-outs and buy-outs) the banks still won’t lend to each other (‘LIBOR remains 2% above central bank rates, an unprecedented ‘spread’) isn’t it becoming clearer that, as I’ve said before on this blog, there is only one real answer: the commercial banks have to be NATIONALISED and/or remutualised (Roughly, my suggestion would be: permanent nationalisations of the ‘big four’ etc., and permanent remutualisations of the former building-societies). This combined with a new strict and long-term regulatory regime to be introduced soon, might actually do the trick (of preventing a vast financial and economic meltdown). Banks need to be forced to lend, for the public good. There should be more inter-bank lending; more lending to small businesses etc.; and we need to fund a ‘Green New Deal’ to ‘pump-prime’ to escape a depression while saving rather than trashing our ecosystems.

  At present, by contrast, money is being destroyed by bank ‘hoarding’ of bail-out etc. money; there is still, therefore, and incredibly, a liquidity crisis; there is still therefore risk of good sound institutions in both the real and the money economies being taken down. And there is ongoing pressure to trash our ecosystems – look for instance at the looser rules that E.U. member-state governments have this week pressed for on emissions reductions, specifically citing the economic downturn as their reason/justification for this.

 The amount we are investing in the banks requires them to be owned by us, as a matter of natural justice and fairness. The amount that they have profiteered by over recent years (vast dividends, bonuses, etc) must never be repeated. The need to have them work in the public good, for the good of the real economy, requires them to be controlled by us.

  How long will it be before the world’s Governments realise that they need to abandon the remnants of laissez-faire ideology and the fantasy that finance can continue be run on a globalised, privatised, virtually rule-free basis, and actually grab this problem by the scruff of its neck, and take ownership and control of it? This needs to happen soon, or we may never know the answer – because the entire system may collapse completely.

Leading banker explains how the private banks create and destroy money

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7673000/7673260.stm
The top-of-the-hour interview on TODAY this morning is essential listening for anyone wishing to understand why the current crisis requires monetary reform (http://www.jamesrobertson.com/book/monetaryreform.pdf ), in order to be truly solved. One of the world’s leading bankers tells us how banks create money through lending — and destroy it (as is happening at present) through not lending. Listen again, and goto just under 5 minutes in.
(I do hope sceptics of monetary reform will be among those who listen to this. When the bankers themselves tell you that what we are saying is true, then you really need to listen…)
 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS OVER COUNTY’S PLANS FOR ‘GENOME ANALYSIS CENTRE’

[[Media release:]]

  UNANSWERED QUESTIONS REMAIN SURROUNDING COUNTY’S PLANS FOR ‘GENOME ANALYSIS CENTRE’

 

After the Norfolk County Council Cabinet’s decision on Monday of this week to go ahead with giving £1million to help create a ‘Genome Analysis Centre’ at the edge of Norwich (although the actual provision of the money is to be delayed, because of the County Council having £32million tied up in shut-down Icelandic banks…), Norfolk Green Party Councillors are asking a whole series of probing questions about the project.

                 

  Councillor Rupert Read, 2009 Green Party Euro candidate for the East, questioned whether the scheme represented good value for money for Norfolk Norfolk Council Tax payers:

“Has anyone asked Council Taxpayers whether they want their
council to spend £1 million to support this initiative? Has the Council looked seriously into what other good uses there could be for that money? Has the Council’s Economic Development Unit ever consulted with Norfolk taxpayers on which sectors and locations large-value economic investments should be made with by this Council?

“Furthermore, the proposed location is far from most of the new housing that is being built in Norwich; has this plan really been thought through? Is there joined-up thinking going on at the Council over this, or not?

Green Party County Councillor Andrew Boswell was at the County Council Cabinet meeting yesterday. The following were among the questions that he asked yesterday, to which he did not receive satisfactory replies:

 

“Other industry sectors and other regions of the County will rightly want to see how this £1million capital expenditure by the Council has been evaluated and prioritised before coming to this meeting today for final sign-off.  They will ask ‘does this really deliver jobs?’, and ‘are they the jobs that Norfolk people want?’.

For instance, if Norfolk County Council are funding this, why are they not also funding research into sustainable agriculture, local food supply, organic production, and green jobs in marine/solar/wind sectors which East Anglia is particularly suited to exploit?

“Our information suggests that the record of similar enterprises elsewhere is poor. Has Norfolk County Council researched whether centres like this have actually worked to attract new business and new employment, when they have been created elsewhere?

 

Green Party Councillors are also asking questions about the Genetic Modification science involved with the GAC project. Cllr. Read asked: “How much of the likely ‘spin-off’ companies that the Council hopes that this will attract will be doing G.M. science? Has the Council checked with the citizens of Norfolk to see if we are willing to, let along keen on, funding research that may involve the creation of genetically-modified food, ‘synthetic biology’, crop trials, and so on?”

 

Norfolk Green Party will be continuing to press for answers to these questions.