Labour U-Turn on Incinerator

This is terrible: an awful indictment of Norfolk Labour. Here’s what’s happened:
 
Green Party city councillors have expressed anger over revelations from DEFRA which show that the Leader of Norwich City Council, Brenda Arthur, told the Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, in a telephone call on 16th January, that the city council supported the Norfolk Waste Strategy, which is being used to justify the building of an incinerator near Kings Lynn. The telephone conversation took place just days after Councillor Arthur wrote to Mrs Spelman to state the city council’s opposition to incineration in Norfolk.

Councillor Claire Stephenson, Leader of the Opposition Green Party Group on Norwich City Council said:

“Brenda Arthur agreed to write to the Secretary of State to explain that the city council opposes incineration after she was petitioned to do so by fifteen Green and four Liberal Democrat councillors. It was clear that the view of the city council in January of this year was that the council opposed incineration in Norfolk. If Councillor Arthur then said in a phone call that the city council was content to go along with a strategy which included the creation of an incinerator in Norfolk, she was speaking for herself, not on behalf of other councillors. This would seem to be an abuse of her position.”

The Opposition councillors who wrote to Councillor Arthur in January referred to a motion passed by Norwich City Council in 2007 which stated “this council confirms its opposition to any form of incineration of Norfolk’s waste”.

Following Mrs Spelman’s telephone call to Councillor Arthur, the Secretary of State agreed waste incineration credits to the value of £169m for an incinerator at Kings Lynn.

Councillor Amy Stammers, Green Party Shadow Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Climate Change, attempted to ask Councillor Arthur a formal question at a recent council meeting. Councillor Stammers’ question was:

Will the cabinet member write to the Secretary of State and ask him to call in the Saddlebow waste incinerator planning application?”

When this question was disallowed, Councillor Stammers asked it by email, but did not receive a clear response.

How to enliven Lords reform

Guardians for future generations proposal: a new route to enlivening Lords reform

 

“Nick Clegg’s plans for a historic reform of the House of Lords are set to dominate the list of Bills [in the next Queen’s Speech], the Evening Standard tell us (http://tinyurl.com/7j4u6xx ).” At a time of frenzied media discussion of government plans to reform the House of Lords, ‘Guardians for future generations‘, a recent report by the ‘Green House’ think tank, may offer a refreshing insight into the potential for further constitutional reform. The report, authored by me and launched recently at the House of Commons, proposes the creation of strong ‘guardians’ to protect the needs of future generations. In order to achieve this, the ‘Guardians for future generations’ report suggests creating a ‘super-jury’, picked by chance (as juries are) from the population at large, charged with preserving the basic needs of future generations. This ‘super-jury’ could be part of the new reformed upper house (or alternatively could be placed above the upper house). 

 

Selecting some of the members of the reformed upper house in this way, by sortition, would reduce the controversy over the upper house being a rival to the House of Commons, if too many of its members are elected.

 

The Guardians’ central powers would be a veto over new legislation that would damage/ compromise the basic needs of future people, and a right to force a review of existing legislation that is already damaging their basic needs.

 

House of Lords reform needs a new impetus. It is flagging and facing implacable opposition. The proposal in this report – to make care for and representation of future people a central purpose of Lords reform – would dramatically enliven the process of reform of the upper House.

 

               The ‘Guardians’ report is available here:

  http://www.greenhousethinktank.org/files/greenhouse/home/Guardians_inside_final.pdf

          Further information about Green House think tank can be found at http://www.greenhousethinktank.org.

 

Summary of report findings:

 

‘Democracy’ means ‘government by the people’; but who are ‘the people’?

 

Society exists over time and decisions taken today can have significant consequences for people yet to be born. This report argues that the interests of future generations should be formally represented within our existing parliamentary democracy. In other words: Future people should be included among ‘the people’.

 

Building on the precedent of Hungary‘s innovative office of Ombudsman for Future Generations, the report proposes the creation of a new legislative structure – Guardians of Future Generations. The members of this body would be selected by sortition, as is current practice for jury service, in order to ensure independence from present-day party political interests.

 

The Guardians would have a power of veto over legislation that was likely to have substantial negative effects for society in the future, and perhaps also the right to review major administrative decisions which substantially affected future people and the power to initiate legislation to preserve the basic needs and interests of future people.

 

The report argues that two facts make the proposal especially timely; first, the government’s intention to become ‘the greenest government ever’, contrasted with its closure of institutions designed to maintain our ecosystems for the future; second, the current process of radical constitutional reform (most notably, potential democratisation of the House of Lords).

 

 

Ross Jackson and Rupert Read IN CONVERSATION – Invitation to Assembly House, Norwich, 20 March

 

“Guardians of Future Generations”

 

 

Invitation

RSVP: gudrun@greenbooks.co.uk

 

Tues 20th March 2012

Assembly House, Norwich

18:00 – 19:30

 

Ross Jackson (author, Occupy World Street )

& Rupert Read (author, “Guardians of the Future”)

discuss radical  ideas for protecting the interests of future generations.

 

The costs of decisions we make today will be borne by future generations; the issue of intergenerational justice is at the heart of the need to act on climate change. So how might the world be different if the interests and basic needs of future generations were given legal protection?

 

Earlier this year, Rupert Read, a philosopher at the University of East Anglia and founder of the new Green House Think Tank, launched a proposal  called Guardians of the Future at the House of Commons:  A council of “Guardians of Future Generations”, chosen like a jury from the general public, would sit above the existing law-making bodies and have two core powers. A power to veto legislation that threatened the basic needs and interests of future people and the power to force a review, following suitable public petition, of any existing legislation that threatens the interests of future people.

 

In his forthcoming book, Occupy World StreetRoss Jackson,  proposes a similar, but elected, institution as one of many specific political and economic reforms that could make it possible to address climate change and protect future generationsA council of ‘wise elders’ would be elected ─ one from each major region of the world ─ to exercise just one power, and that to be used sparingly, the power to veto or void any resolution passed by lower powers whenever they feel things are moving in the wrong direction for the whole of humanity.

 

Damian Carrington, covering the launch of Rupert Read’s proposal in the Guardian, wrote:

 

“The idea of Guardians of Future Generations joins a number of radical ideas which are starting to make small but real impacts in the world. Hungary appointed an Ombudsman for Future Generations in 2008. The concept of the crime of ecocide is being considered by the UN. And Bolivia has passed laws giving nature equal rights to those of humans.” 

 

Come along to hear Ross and Rupert discuss their ideas, and to join in the public debate that follows.  Please RSVP: gudrun@greenbooks.co.uk

 

About the speakers

Ross Jackson cofounded Simcorp, which is today a leading global financial software company and listed on the NASDAQ OMX Nordic Exchange. In 1988, he founded the first international hedge fund dealing exclusively with interbank currency trading, which has funded his charitable work. He is chairman of Gaia Trust, a charity he cofounded in 1987, which supports hundreds of sustainability projects around the world, including the fast-growing eco-village movement. His undergraduate degree was in engineering physics in Canada, followed by a master’s degree in industrial management and a PhD in operations research, the science of problem solving.

 

Ross Jackson’s book Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform is published by Green Books on 22nd March 2012.

 

Visit www.greenbooks.co.uk/ows for more information, or read the press release online: Is Ross Jackson’s breakaway strategy the the long awaited blueprint for ‘the 99 percent’?

 

For extracts, articles and interviews with Ross Jackson contact gudrun@greenbooks.co.uk

 

 

 

Advance praise for Occupy World Street:

 

“Ross Jackson’s proposal for a post-collapse strategy is the first plausible,  constructive scenario I have seen. An excellent text. Even amazing.”

– DENNIS MEADOWS, author, The Limits to Growth

 

“A masterpiece that deserves wide circulation and commitment by world leaders.”

– MAURICE STRONG, Secretary General of the UN Earth Summit, Rio, 1992

 

——————-

Dr Rupert Read is Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where he specialises increasingly in political and environmental philosophy. He is also a columnist on the weekly (each Saturday) One World Column.

 

His publications include Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture. He was a Green Party Councillor from 2004-2011, and helped write the first draft of the Green 2009 Euro-election manifesto. He blogs on environmental reframing at Green Words Workshop.