Red Green Labour and the Green New Deal

A new report by the Green New Deal Group should be welcomed. It provides a valuable campaigning tool for those of us in the Labour Party who believe that the party should be Green as well as Red and should identify addressing climate change as a central concern and an important part of its electoral appeal, writes Peter Allen. You can read the report here : https://www.greennewdealgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/GNDJobsReport9-18.pdf

Called  ‘Jobs in Every Constituency’ it has the subtitle ‘THIS TIME IT MUST BE DIFFERENT 10 years after 2008 economic crisis’. A follow up to its original report, published in that year, it notes that, since the crash, there has been much more discussion about the state’s role in improving the UK’s infrastructure. Meanwhile important technological changes have reduced the cost of green energy and mean that a Green New Deal is even more achievable than it was a decade ago, whilst the need for it is ever more urgent.

The report’s emphasis on a ‘ Jobs in Every Constituency ‘ approach is an attempt to widen public support for a shift to a “ jobs rich decarbonisation future” including in pro Brexit ‘ left behind’ communities. It  includes the following manifesto commitments which it would like political parties to include in their programmes for the next election.

  • Making the UK’s 30 million buildings super-energy-efficient to dramatically reduce energy bills, fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Accelerating the shift to renewable electricity supplies and storage, given their dramatic drop in price worldwide and increased  availability;
  • Tackling the housing crisis by building affordable, highly insulated new homes, predominantly on brown field sites;
  • Transport policy that concentrates on rebuilding local public transport links;
  • Properly maintaining the UK’s road and rail system;
  • Encouraging electric vehicles for business and personal use and sharing.

Each local community/ parliamentary constituency should produce its own plans for implementing the above measures which are “labour intensive, take place in every locality and consist of work that is difficult to automate …..and would provide a secure career structure for decades. This would require a significant numbers of apprenticeships and the range of long-term jobs provide increased opportunities for the self-employed and local small businesses. This growth in local economic activity would in turn create other jobs to service this increased spending”

How would the money be found to pay for such measures ? The report suggests a possible role  for  targeted quantitative easing ( QE) , with central government creating money not to bail out the banks as happened last time but to fund the greening of our infrastructure. This might be combined with borrowing during what is a time of very low interest rates, increased taxes on the wealthy and collecting taxes from those currently unemployed or in precarious employment who would be moving into secure, well paid employment as part of the programme. It suggests that the programme would achieve long term economic ,social and ecological benefits worth many times the money spent.

“enormous sums would need to be used judiciously to ensure a realistically timetabled, carefully costed, and hence non-inflationary, nationwide initiative to train and employ a fairly paid ‘carbon army’ to work on this nationwide infrastructure programme…..(involving)extensive consultation with local government, businesses and communities to establish what such a programme should look like on the ground”.

The original Green New Deal Group was made up of 8 economists and campaigners and a single politician, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Last week’s letter to the Guardian had 13 signatories, including MPs from 4 Westminster parties ( Labour, Lib Dem, Green and SNP)  . The lead signatory was Vince Cable whilst Labour’s signatory was the relatively unknown David Drew, MP for Stroud and Shadow Farming and Rural Affairs Minister . Socialists may be unhappy at the prominence given to Vince Cable, particularly in view of the hostile comments he has made about Labour under Corbyn in recent days. I generally think that it is unwise to question people’s motives ( even politicians!) and hope that Cable may be wanting to reestablish his reputation as a progressive politician as he prepares to leave the stage. In any event it must be helpful to have the leader of the Liberal Democrats signed up to a set of proposals which go further than Labour’s 2017 manifesto in greening and transforming the UK economy.

No doubt many of us would say that the proposals should be more radical still. In particular the division between public and private sector involvement in the programme is left unclear. Moreover growing numbers of Labour activists, myself included, would question the whole notion of governments having to fund spending through either taxation or borrowing, preferring instead to accept the principles of Modern Monetary Theory  (see here http://www.actvism.org/en/politics/modern-monetary-theory-stephanie-kelton/ )

Nevertheless I think that ecosocialists should support the Green New Deal Report and Labour members should actively promote it within the party, at this year’s Conference and beyond. We should  welcome the Green New Deal Group‘s multi party approach and engage positively with it, in the hope of increasing its influence within  the party and of  further radicalising its approach.

The rising tide: Kerala 2018 flood

It will not be enough for us to rue the past, writes Arundhati Roy.

This year in Kerala, the monsoon that we long for, and the rivers that we pretend to love, are talking back to us. Certainly, for me, the rain was the ink in my pen, and the river, the Meenachil, drove my story. They made me the writer that I am.

Now their fury is unimaginable, and the scale of the disaster and peoples’ suffering is still unfolding. The Army, the navy, various government agencies, local communities, an extraordinary collective of fisher folk, journalists, and thousands of ordinary people have shown exemplary courage and fellow-feeling, risking their lives to bring others to safety. Help and money is pouring in. More help and more money will be needed. And yet, as the waters recede, revealing oceans of plastic and debris, we are faced with the fact that it would be dishonest of us to treat this calamity purely as a natural disaster in which we humans played no part.We know by now that in the era of global warming and climate change, the mountains and the coastal areas will be the first to pay the price.

Kerala without the floods

The intensity and the frequency of climate catastrophes will only increase. California is burning. Kerala is drowning. Our beloved Kerala is a strip of land sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. We could not be more vulnerable.Unbridled greed, the shocking denuding of forest land for mining and illegal development of resorts and homes for the wealthy, illegal construction that has blocked all natural drainage, the destruction of natural water storage systems, the blatant mismanagement of dams, have all played a huge part in what is happening. How could it be that the Central Water Commission did not predict this flood? How could it be that dams that are supposed to control floods ended up releasing water from their reservoirs at the height of the crisis, magnifying the disaster several times over?

With waters receding, Kerala may be staring at a ’second disaster’

Today funds are pouring in to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund— much of it hard-earned money from ordinary people, believing quite correctly, that it is only the government that can co-ordinate relief work that will reach the most far-flung places where the most vulnerable people live.

And yet, many of us worry about these funds being controlled by the very machinery that ignored past warnings in the first place. The Madhav Gadgil Committee Report, for instance, predicted just such a scenario if the government did not take serious steps to control unplanned development propelled by corrupt politicians and avaricious businessmen and industrialists.

Disasters such as this one can bring out the best as well as the worst in people. It can bring people together, or it can widen the fissures and reward those whose deeds are to some extent responsible for creating the catastrophe.

We have seen how during other disasters, like the Tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, ruthless developers moved in to try and take over the lands and homes of the most vulnerable people. Here in India, sadly, various forces are at work, doing their best to spread poison and disaffection between communities, at a time when there should only be love and concern. Fortunately, the people of Kerala have never fallen prey to this, and are unlikely to now, in their moment of grief and hardship.

We hope and trust that in the days and weeks to come, while people try to put their devastated lives back together, the Kerala government will pay special attention to its most disadvantaged people, in particular dalits and forest-dwelling Adivasi people who do not have the power or the means to elbow themselves to the front of the queue for aid and relief.

It will not be enough for us to rue the past. Rebuilding and rehabilitation cannot be taken to mean a return to business as usual. We will have to take steps to correct the environmental imbalance we have created. If not, God’s Own Country will cease to be fit for human habitation. For all its fury, perhaps the 2018 flood is only a very gentle warning.

The week

Waste Incineration & Energy-from-Waste: a new capitalist greenwash

Most of us are aware of the need for recycling waste but there is in fact a necessity to move to  Zero Waste as increasing public concerns arise about plastic pollution, food waste or toxic waste, writes Clara Paillard. . In a capitalist consumption society, we continually produce more and more goods, many of them useless or rapidly becoming obsolete by design and lack of quality. Incineration creates many problems.

It has long been known that waste landfill contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions, and recycling has been promoted as a solution to the problem. Recycling rates have indeed increased in the UK and across Europe. However, austerity politics and its push for privatisation have seen many local authorities contracting out their waste services to private companies like Veolia or Biffa, who rely on waste to make profit. As a result recycling rates are falling off.

Despite some commitments to some waste reduction targets made as soon as Jeremy Corbyn became leader, and the subsequent introduction of radical policies on energy public ownership or and fracking, the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto was very thin on the issue of waste (“We will set guiding targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes, working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce waste”). The 2018 National Policy Forum “Greener Britain” Consultation focused on clean air, clean energy and natural environment but said nothing about waste as such.

In a search for more profit and under the cover of ‘sustainability’, a number of companies have invested in the “Energy-from-Waste” (EfW) business, aka waste incineration to produce energy, whether in the form of electricity or fuel. Between 2009 and 2017, the UK more than doubled its waste incineration capacity from 6.3 million tonnes to 13.5 million tonnes while residual waste fell by 13%. London sent more than half of its waste to incinerators.

Energy-from-Waste plants are a combination of a waste incinerator and an energy plant. Growing numbers of incinerators are sprawling in the UK and across the world.

The EfW power plant relies on what they call residual waste or “Refused-Derived-Fuel” (RDF), an amalgamation of waste materials, often from domestic council collection. The RDF is burnt to produce electricity (or sometimes fuel for vehicles). The industry claims that chimney filters erase any form of danger in term of air pollution. In addition, toxic waste disposal and increase heavy vehicle traffic affects the communities living nearby. It detracts from the urgency of reducing waste in general or recycling plastics food separately for biogas like highlighted in this article on the SERA website.Indeed, the fact that councils enter into contracts to supply incineration companies with minimum amounts of waste acts as a positive disincentive to encourage recycling.

Most trade unions have policies to support recycling in workplaces or in favour of developing ‘’Climate Jobs’ in the waste sector. But generally, waste incineration hasn’t been much debated in the trade union movement. The exception is a motion passed at the Trade Union Congress in 2012 supporting the precautionary principle on both fracking and waste incineration (motion 10 on Greenwash). Unions representing waste workers have highlighted both that the waste industry is the most dangerous one to work in and that the amount of waste sent to incineration has now surpassed that going to landfill.

The waste sector is a powerful industry that has grown from previously unregulated or even corrupt businesses so it is difficult to know what exactly goes on. A number of larger corporations have grown to dominate the market and are working with other powerful polluting industries. A startling example is the EfW incinerator in Runcorn, near Liverpool. Commissioned by the larger chemical company in Europe, Ineos which is owned by Top of the 2018 UK Rich List Jim Ratcliffe, the incinerator is operated by Viridor and has secure long-term contracts with the like of Greater Manchester City Council. While Viridor is making profit by charging local authorities for waste disposal, Ineos gets a cheap source of electricity to feed its giant chemical plant on the same site which consume as much energy as the entire city of Liverpool. Ineos has also started to emerge as one of the leader of the UK fracking industry.

This is a small world at work. As well as the need to “Reduce, reuse, recycle”, we shall not burn our waste for the profit of the few. We should support the many and those communities that struggle against the building of new incinerators. A number of those grassroots campaign have succeeded in blocking new proposals but a National Strategy on Waste is required and the Labour Party must develop it. UK Win (UK Without Incineration) compiles a good database of information on extent of the waste incineration industry in the UK and the grassroots resistance to its projects.

March against Trump – and for the Planet

Photo: Greenpeace USA

There are many reasons for supporting the anti-Trump protests this week, writes Alan Thornett. It has become increasingly clear that Trump can do immeasurable damage not only to politics across the planet but to its life support systems.

During Blair’s premiership, when he was moving rapidly to the right, he was accused of doing this in order to win right-wing and middle England votes. His reply was: no, it is worse that than that, ‘I really believe in all this’.

It’s the same with Trump. The debate as to whether the reactionary, alt-right, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, and nationalist agenda on which he fought the election was just designed to drum up votes from the red-necks or whether it would be the basis of his presidency is also over. In fact the reality has been worse that his campaign presaged. He didn’t mention, for example, dragging the children of migrants from the arms of their parents and putting them in cages in his election campaign.

Trump frightening

Most frightening of all are his actions in term of the long term future of the planet itself—its future as a viable life support system. He has withdrawn the USA –the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gas – from the Paris agreement, which could prove to be the crucial tipping point which spins the whole climate system out of control. He has also ended all federal expenditure on both climate research and climate monitoring that will impact on the global preparation to defend the planet.

He has halted all federal funding for alternative energy and is vigorously promoting fossil energy including reopening coal mines and expanding all forms of fossil fuel production, including fracking and tar-sands.

In its 2019 budget plan, the Trump White House has cut the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) spending on environmental initiatives to roughly two hundred million dollars, a reduction of seventy per cent from typical Obama-era spending.

Such cuts include US funding to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which studies climate change to develop strategies to minimise its impact in a highly vulnerable region. It is prey not only to extreme weather events but to the effects of climate change; rising sea levels, coral-reef bleaching, droughts and their effects on agriculture, and the infrastructure on which the Caribbean’s forty-four million people depend.

The poorest countries in the world, including those in the Caribbean, emit about one-fifth of global carbon emissions, yet they are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. But when over 4000 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath Trump said that it was ‘not a real catastrophe‘.And in Africa, the Trump has moved to eliminate all funding for climate-related or environmental projects, including reforestation, across the continent, including Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indonesia—one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world.

It is true that Obama’s ecological policies were weak and inadequate. But we are now at a new level of danger – both in terms of how close we are to tipping points and how bad Trump’s agenda is. If he is not stopped, we could end up looking back and saying that he was the final straw that pushed the planet over the ecological edge.

Resistance

It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda in the USA. His withdrawal from Paris is unpopular and even big business is reluctant to reinvest in fossil fuel which they recognise as historically outdated. It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda at the level of the individual states, in California for example.

But none of this can be relied on. Trumpism has to be broken. There is no guarantee that he would not win a second term and if he did it would be even more environmentally destructive than the first.

There will be many protests in different parts of Britain to greet Trump when he arrives. The Campaign against Climate Change is organising a climate bloc on the London demonstration on Friday, which RedGreenLabour supporters are urged to join.

 

The fight against Heathrow is far from over

On Monday June 25, Westminster took two decisions which were a major breach in Britain’s commitment to combatting climate change – as well as being disastrous for other reasons, writes Terry Conway. There has been a great deal of coverage about the decision to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow, but not enough analysis of what led to the debacle- and how those of us committed to ensuring that it doesn’t now proceed should be doing now.

The second decision has been less discussed –  not to fund the tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said the £1.3bn project was not value for money, despite claims by developers Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) a revised offer made it cheaper.

Even at the original strike price of £89.90 per megawatt hour this is below the strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years given to the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. So it’s apparently OK to pay high prices for the deadly technology of nuclear and produce waste we cannot dispose of safely, but not for the first ever tidal lagoon which would produce enough renewable energy for 155,000 properties in Wales. And it’s clear that the first tidal lagoon scheme would be more expensive than subsequent uses of the technology – by starting in Wales, Britain would have been pioneering this vital technology and could benefit from it later.

But despite the fact that the government’s announcement on Swansea came on the same day as the vote on Heathrow, that illustration of the Tories determination to ignore Britain’s climate change commitments was not mentioned in the four hour debate.

It was left to Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to raise it in the Welsh Assembly and to ask Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to set up a public energy company in Wales which could save the scheme. Though such a commitment made in Labour’s last manifesto for Wales, Jones did not reply directly, but merely repeated his regret at Westminster’s decision. While the Welsh assembly has less power than the Scottish Parliament, such action would be within their power and it seems a real missed opportunity to act. It was great to see a strong statement on Swansea Bay from Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, but the fact that it doesn’t call on the Labour-led Welsh government to do anything now seriously weakens it.

Returning to Heathrow, the campaign against expansion is by no means over. Even in parliamentary terms, Grayling’s made clear that the policy statement agreed on Monday night “does not grant final planning consent.” A number of those who spoke in the debate to support the proposal made it clear that they did so with reservations and wanted to see conditions met – conditions which its plain to see cannot and will not be met.

Problem for ecosocialists

But it was a major problem for all environmentalists, especially for ecosocialists in the Labour Party, that the majority of Labour MPs (119 to 74) voted for the Tory government, while some members of the Shadow Cabinet (notably Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner) abstained. Former Labour MP makes a powerful point when he refers to the debacle as “Labour’s Maginot line moment”.

And of course the Tories were rubbing their hands with glee at the intervention of Unite’s Len McCluskey who wrote to all Labour MP’s asking them to back expansion after Shadow Secretary of State Andy McDonald issued a statement showing the proposals failed Labour’s four tests.

Chris Grayling was eager to make the point in the Westminster debate:  “It is unusual for me to find myself campaigning on the same side of the argument as Len McCluskey of Unite the Union, but the trade union movement has been a strong supporter of this, as have business groups in all corners of the United Kingdom”. Unite members like myself who strongly disagree with our General Secretary on this question have a major job of work to do here to fight for a jobs conversion approach within the union.

And while McDonald’s press statement was sharp, his intervention into the debate was more contradictory. Some of the points were effective. His statement that some 40,000 people die prematurely each year because of poor air quality was echoed by others pointing out that its over 9000 a year in London.

At the centre of his speech was the following: “Today’s vote has been scheduled just days before the Government’s own advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, is due to publish a report that is expected to warn that increasing aviation emissions will destroy Britain’s greenhouse gas targets. It appears that the vote on the national policy statement has been planned for today so that hon. and right hon. Members are left in the dark about how much the Secretary of State’s plan will obliterate the UK’s climate change commitments. That is not only reckless, but shows contempt for Parliament and for the environment….Global warming is the single most important issue facing the world, yet Members of this House are being asked to vote today without full knowledge and without the full set of facts.”

Powerful stuff, doing a good demolition job of a bad case poorly put forward by the Tories – but seriously undermined by another statement: “Labour wants successful and growing aviation and aerospace industries across the UK”.

Hopeless. You won’t convince McCluskey, you won’t convince those Labour MPs in the NorthWest if you imply the problem is this particular proposal. The implication is what? Boris island? Expand GatwicK?? Instead Labour needs to be pushing the sort of argument made here in Chris Saltmarsh’s article “No Jobs on a Dead Planet”, and in Gabriel Levy’s piece here as well as the more detailed case in PCS’s Just Transition and Energy Democracy: a civil service trade union perspective.

You won’t convince those campaigning Vote No Heathrow  who are organising around slogans such as Climate genocide and are rightly against any expansion of airport capacity. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has campaigned against Heathrow expansion for a long time, participating in mass action as well as making the case in the community, after stating that he believed court action would succeed, finished his speech by arguing that this will be “the iconic, totemic battleground of climate change, which will attract protesters and campaigners from across Europe. This issue will not go away.”

There were other powerful points made by other Labour MPs in the debate. Mary Creagh, who I don’t often quote with approval, stated that the Department of Transport’s analysis “refers to two ways to reduce carbon emissions from flights: one is single-engine taxiing; the other is ensuring that 12% of fuels in aeroplanes are renewable. Neither of those is currently in operation in Heathrow or any other airport in the world”. Thus she destroyed a key argument of those supporting expansion, that new technology would miraculously rescue Britain’s climate change targets. These people clearly don’t get the precautionary principle.

Tory myths

Another myth from the government, challenged among others by Justine Greening, was that 250,000 more flights would involve not one extra car journey.  My favourite soundbite was from Clive Lewis, who pithily summed up the division thus: “tonight’s votes will break down into two camps of those who believe we can negotiate with climate physics, and those who do not”.

The other visible abstentions in the debate of course came from the Scottish National Party, who had been expected to vote for the proposal until quite late in the day. This shift of position was justified in the debate on the basis that there was no guarantee from the government that the 200 slots now promised by Heathrow would be sacrosanct. After a vigorous campaign to persuade them to vote against, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Dr. Richard Dixon said:

“By abstaining, SNP MPs have stayed silent and this awful proposal has passed despite the clear and repeated warning about its effect on the climate. The SNP has clearly felt the pressure from the thousands of people who have been emailing their MPs, but being a climate leader means taking hard decisions and voting no to destructive projects like the Heathrow runway. You can’t abstain on climate change.

“While better than supporting the project, the SNP’s symbolic abstention has done nothing to challenge this damaging, polluting plan. Heathrow is already the UK’s biggest carbon polluter and we should be finding ways to drastically cut emissions from the aviation sector rather than encouraging them to further drive climate change.

“While new climate legislation has been introduced at Holyrood to increase climate ambition, it’s impossible to see how allowing a further massive expansion of aviation could be compatible with the SNP’s position on climate change.”

Campaigning

Friends of the Earth Scotland were not the only group campaigning in the run up to the vote. The Campaign against Climate Change also organised people to lobby their MPs across Britain, while Vote No Heathrow organised direct action including a die-in in Parliament shortly before the vote.

But for RedGreenLabour supporters there was an inexcusable lack of action from SERA, which badges itself as Labour’s environment campaign. As soon as it was clear in early June that there would be a parliamentary vote before recess, many of us started lobbying SERA for a statement – as well as taking action ourselves. We were assured it would happen, that it wasn’t controversial but had to be agreed by the Executive… We were not told why a draft statement launching a campaign couldn’t be agreed by email or a meeting convened by Skype.

The statement eventually appeared on June 21 – the day after the Labour Party’s own statement! Even worse it wasn’t e-mailed out to SERA members, there was no appeal to lobby MPs. So while the content is OK, it was irrelevant as an organising tool. SERA did send out a mail to members on June 28th expressing disappointment about both Heathrow and Swansea Bay – better late than never I suppose – but there was no call on members to do anything. And some RGL supporters have been told that SERA won’t participate in any direct action – apparently that’s not our role.

Well I don’t agree. I’m with John McDonnell. This is an emblematic battle against climate change. It’s a key campaign to show that the Labour Party is really committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels and preserving jobs through a Just transition. That means direct action as well as meetings and lobbying and I think RedGreenLabour, together with many CLPs, trade unionists and climate activists are ready to play a part in that. It’s true that This may be a long hot summer!

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid

The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians’ legally owned fertile agricultural land

Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth wrote Ben Lorber, in a piece published in Links in 2012.. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation — the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Today, as Israel portrays itself as a “green democracy”’, an eco-friendly pioneer in agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation, dairy farming, desert ecology, water management and solar energy, Israeli factories drain toxic waste and industrial pollutants down from occupied West Bank hilltops into Palestinian villages, and over-pumping of groundwater aquifers denies Palestinians access to vital water sources in a context of increasing water scarcity and pollution. Continue reading “Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid”

Red-Green study group responds to Labour Party consultation

Red Green Labour is pleased to publish the response of the Red-Green Study Group to the Labour Party Environment, Energy, Culture policy consultation.  Its in two parts: a shorter summary first and then their full submission,

Earlier we published a series of articles from RGL supporters on aspects of policy we’d like to see in the review – have a look at them if you missed them – or if you’d like to refresh your memory. But the deadline for responses is Sunday June 24th so do it as soon as possible!

Summary

This response is the result of prolonged discussion among members of the RED-GREEN STUDY GROUP, which has been working since 1992 on bringing together green, socialist and feminist thinking. Contributors include Trade Unionists, members of the Labour Party, members of the Green Party and unaffiliated socialists. Our commitment to producing this response arose from the renewal of hope given by the election of Jeremy Corbyn and the new leadership of the Party.

Our response covers a wide range of topics, across transport, industrial production, farming and food, fishing, biodiversity, planning, energy production and conservation, climate change, health, education and others. Our key theme is that the issues of poverty and inequality and environmental degradation must be addressed together across the whole range of public policy. Without that combined approach, there is the risk of introducing, e.g., environmental measures that unintentionally make life worse for the least well-off. Similarly, poverty alleviation should include as a key aspect, enhancing the environmental living conditions of the poorest.

We note there is a growing and many-dimensional crisis in the relationship between society – essentially, the dynamics of capitalist economic relations – and nature. This is most widely recognised in the form of climate change, but has many other dimensions, such as oceanic pollution, soil degradation, and, we wish to emphasise, loss of biodiversity. These processes need to be addressed by an integrated framework of policy and will certainly require an extension of public ownership. However, though the state will play a leading role, this should not be a repeat of ‘classic’ nationalisations. We suggest forms of democratic, social ownership, where all those affected by an industry or service (consumers, users, local residents, workers, etc., as appropriate) arrive at decisions through negotiated coordination.

Continue reading “Red-Green study group responds to Labour Party consultation”

So Trashy! A Review of EU Waste Management and Inequality Modeling

Landfill in Poland

The policy of the European Union (EU) in the field of environmental protection and natural resources has, since the 1980s, continued to grow in importance, writes Ana Tomicic. But some topics are of particular concern to European citizens. This is the case, in particular, with the production of waste, which is increasingly alarming, with the EU generating some 2 billion tons of waste every year.

More than 40 million tons of this waste are classified as “hazardous waste.” Nearly 60% of the waste produced consists of mineral waste and soil, most often from construction and demolition as well as mining activities. Approximately 30% is produced by manufacturing, trade, energy, services and agriculture, meaning that waste production generally increases at rates comparable to those of growth.

About 10% is “municipal waste” – in other words, waste generated mainly by households and to a lesser extent by small businesses and public institutions such as schools and hospitals.
Continue reading “So Trashy! A Review of EU Waste Management and Inequality Modeling”

The emergence of an ecological Karl Marx: 1818 – 2018

Photo: David Holt

Karl Marx was born in Trier 200 years ago today. The legacy of the political economist is fiercely contested. The Ecologist was among the first magazines to examine his ecological thinking – in an essay published in 1971. Here, Gareth Dale, an editor of the book Green Growth, examines Marx’s own claims about nature and society – and our original interpretation of them

In the closing decades of the twentieth century an ecological Marx was unearthed…the upshot has been a radical rethinking of Marx’s project.

Karl Marx’s 200th birthday is being celebrated today in circumstances he neither desired nor expected: a planet that is governed by, and increasingly shredded and cooked by, capitalism.

The previous such commemorations – in 1918 and 1968 – arrived amidst worldwide upsurges for progressive social-movements.

The Marx for those conjunctures was a theorist of class struggle, revolution and the subjection of the postcolonial world, but was neglectful of nature. Environmentalists found value in Marx, but not in his ecological analysis. Continue reading “The emergence of an ecological Karl Marx: 1818 – 2018”

Heathrow: step up the campaign against expansion now

Tory Transport Minister Chris Grayling announced to Parliament on June 5th, after endless prevarication, what he called the government’s ‘final proposal’ on airport expansion in the shape of what he called an Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), writes Alan Thornett. Heathrow, he said, is already full and the other London airports won’t be far behind. The proposal, therefore, is for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow—to the north west of the existing runways.

The aim is to make Heathrow into a major European hub which would take the passenger capacity of Heathrow to around 120 million a year.

If this plan is allowed to go ahead it would further pollute what is already one of the most polluted parts of London, where air quality is already at illegal levels. Around 4,000 homes will be demolished and hundreds of thousands of people will be exposed to additional aircraft noise. This will suck economic activity even more into London and the South East away from the rest of Britain. It will further congest roads in West London that are already bursting at the seams. Continue reading “Heathrow: step up the campaign against expansion now”